Diyan Achjadi adjusts a pop-up element of one of her pieces being shown at her ‘Carried Through the Water’ exhibition at the Nanaimo Art Gallery starting Friday, April 15. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Diyan Achjadi adjusts a pop-up element of one of her pieces being shown at her ‘Carried Through the Water’ exhibition at the Nanaimo Art Gallery starting Friday, April 15. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Pictures tell stories at new exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery

Diyan Achjadi’s ‘Carried Through the Water’ will be shown from April 15-June 26

Nanaimo Art Gallery’s new exhibition is made up of pieces meant to tell stories and inspire people to make up their own stories.

The gallery presents Diyan Achjadi’s ‘Carried Through the Water’ starting Friday, April 15.

The exhibition is the first to explore Nanaimo Art Gallery’s latest thematic question, ‘What stories do we tell?’ The Vancouver-based artist will be showing work created during the past four years, including a stop-motion watercolour animation called ‘Hush’ and other pieces on paper.

“All the drawings and the prints and the animation refer in some way to landscapes, skyscapes and oceanscapes and create these fictional tableaus that generate stories,” Achjadi said.

The animation was a commission she took on during the lockdown stage of the pandemic, created by photographing 9×12-inch works in progress. Creating two seconds of rain took her four or five hours, she said, and working with watercolour meant she couldn’t pause and come back to the work, she had to commit fully.

“The slowness of it made me have to be really intentional about what I was doing and precise about my mark-making,” Achjadi said. “Also, I loved how in the translation to the animation, after it was photographed, you can really see the quality of the materials, you can see the water drying, you can see the light reflecting … Because I was doing this in the first year of the pandemic, for me, it was really important for people to see that there was a human behind it.”

Several of Achjadi’s works have three-dimensional elements that could be compared to those found in pop-up books. The artist said sometimes she feels like paper should be not only a surface, but also a material part of the picture.

“With having these elements, the drawing becomes more sculptural. It becomes difficult to ever see the whole thing at once and so you have to move around it…” she said. “Hopefully somebody will notice a little detail that they didn’t notice before.”

The thematic inquiry appeals to Achjadi, who has always loved storytelling through pictures. Often her creative process starts when she looks at pictures that tell the story of a particular time and place, or when she hears or reads a story and makes up her own story in response.

“What I try to do as well with my drawings and animations is put together a series of images and patterns so that they suggest a story, and I have a story in my had, usually, when I’m starting it,” she said. “But I hope I’m not telling too much of the story so that somebody coming in can start to pull threads together and make something up.”

Galleries can be intimidating, Achjadi said, as people sometimes don’t feel that they quite understand what the work is about and decide it’s not meant for them. But she hopes anyone can come in “and feel a sense of wonder and connection” seeing her storytelling through pictures, and decide for themselves how the story goes.

WHAT’S ON … Diyan Achjadi’s Carried Through the Water will be at the Nanaimo Art Gallery from April 15-June 26, with an opening reception April 22 at 7 p.m.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo Art Gallery hosting travelling exhibition ‘Bombhead’ inspired by atomic age

READ ALSO: Artist presents dream-inspired exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery

READ ALSO: Nanaimo-raised artist makes offering of Ford F-150 sculpture to his ancestors

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter