Ken Blackburn isn’t just the executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council, chair of the Campbell River Public Art Committee, the community programmer for the Museum at Campbell River and on the Acquisitions Committee of the Campbell River Art Gallery.
He also plays with bits of paper and glue in what little spare time he has.
Okay, that’s oversimplifying it, but his month-long show at the Tidemark, Event Horizon, which ran from Oct. 27 until earlier this week, was really that simple in hits beginnings.
“It really came together because of one day, years ago, in Japan,” Blackburn says.
He tells the story as if it just happened the other day.
He remembers it as vividly as the colours on the works on the walls of the theatre’s lobby.
It all began in a small paper shop in Japan, when he was living there for a little while back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He had wandered in while the man who operated the store was cutting paper.
“The bits he was trimming off were just falling on the floor there below the cutting board and landing at his feet, and I looked down and went, ‘whoa. That’s beautiful. All I would need to do is glue that together.’”
Again, it would prove a bit more complicated and intentional than that – as art tends to become – but although the tiny Japanese man thought it was terribly funny that Blackburn would want his scraps – they were garbage, as far as he was concerned – he began saving them for him nonetheless.
And now, 25 years or so later, Blackburn is showing off what’s come of it.
“In taking small pieces of things that come from larger wholes, it creates a situation where the fragment is a whole unto itself, cut from a larger whole, which is then composed back into different whole – it becomes part of a larger thing again.”
It’s like “community” itself, Blackburn says.
“Each of us are fragments of larger wholes, but we are also, each of us, ourselves, perfect compositions,” he says.
Local businessman Brian Shaw said he was happy to sponsor the event – “the Tidemark needs rent, after all,” he laughed – in exchange for one of Blackburn’s works from the show, which Shaw will then add to a silent auction or other fundraiser, “for whatever my next non-profit cause turns out to be. This work is exceptionally beautiful, and I’m sure it will be a welcome addition for any art aficionado’s collection. You can really see how much time and work went into it, and I’m sure it will raise a good amount for a good cause, whatever that ends up being.”
Shaw said he also wanted to be involved to support Blackburn, who does so much to support the arts in the community. Check out more of Blackburn’s work – which is by no means all made from little scraps of really expensive, ornately designed paper – at kenblackburn.com