From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Viewing the Metamorphosis of a Building
The first exhibit in the smaller of the two galleries on the main floor will be a visual story of the transformation of 502 Vernon Street from city hall to cultural centre –“Metamorphosis,” a selection of photographs by Karen Redfern.
Redfern had 15 years experience before she re-located to Nelson. On a whim about a year ago, she answered a call for proposals to photograph the renovations to the building. Much to her surprise, she was selected by the Society.
Redfern faced many challenges in her work to document the process as she dodged construction crews on a tight timeline, struggled with drastic changes in light as windows were boarded up or rooms gutted and steadied her camera under the vibrations of construction machinery. “I hope people will get a sense of the transformation this building has undergone and understand how challenging the project was,” Redfern said.
While the accomplished photographer is far from an amateur she is new to the concept of displaying her work as an artistic product in a gallery setting. “Metamorphosis” is a series of black and white and colour photos that will allow the public to see what has been going on inside the building all those months through the lens of an artist.
“The building revealed itself to me gradually over the year,” she said. “It is an amazing place, inside and out.” “Metamorphosis” opens to the public on October 14 in Gallery B and will be accompanied by an Artist Talk.
Karen has worked as a commercial photographer with a focus on people, places and products, honing her skills in the historical towns of Mexico and the industrial landscapes of North American business. She arrived in the Kootenay’s in 2004 and was commissioned to document the transformation of Nelson’s most recognized heritage building into the state-of-the-art Touchstones facility. The resulting images combine Karen’s technical mastery with an artistic sensibility, capturing a sense of the history that has transpired in the space, as well as the possibilities present in the future.
As I worked on the Touchstones project, the metamorphosis of the building struck me as paralleling my own experience of leaving the coastal rain forest of Vancouver for the inland rain forest of Nelson. As with my own move, which created a journey of discovery, so has this building gone on a journey, back and then forwards in time. Piece by piece layers were peeled away revealing a history rich with beauty. Slowly the building shone through the utilitarian facade that was the old city hall and post office. Each layer allowed more light and beauty to shine through. As in all metamorphosis there was a sense of loss as old fabrics were dismantled and a sense of renewal as the new face began to emerge.
Today the city of Nelson can be very proud and excited by the new face of Touchstones; it is an elegant and graceful mix of history, ready to embrace the community as a vibrant and rich cultural centre.
Thank you to the many people who helped this project come to light; to those that put up with my lens week after week; and to those who made themselves available whenever help was required