Art exhibit supports protection of urban wilderness

Artists donating 20 to 100 per cent of exhibit earnings to Save the Wild Blue campaign

An art exhibit supporting the protection of a key piece of Halifax’s urban wilderness took over the Chase Gallery at the Nova Scotia Archives on Saturday.

The WILD art exhibit features nature-inspired pieces from 10 artists and is raising money for the Nova Scotia Nature Trust’s Save the Wild Blue campaign. The campaign aims to purchase and protect a private piece of wilderness that connects two larger wilderness patches in the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area.

Local artist Shelagh Duffett is behind the exhibit and said she cares about protecting urban wilderness.

“Greenspace is really important to people. They may not realize how important it is, but once it’s gone, that’s it, it’s gone and it’s not coming back.”

Duffett said she was spurred to support urban wilderness protection after a forested area behind Mount Saint Vincent University was removed for development.

“Last December I went up for a walk and the whole area had been clear cut; nothing was left and I was devastated. It really just gutted me. I felt awful.”

Duffett organized the WILD exhibit and contributed her own artwork to support the protection of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes wilderness, an area that she swam in as a teenager.

Kimberley Eddy, another artist featured in the exhibit, lives near the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area and uses it for hiking.

Kimberley Eddy stands in front of her artwork in the Chase Gallery in Halifax on Saturday.   Claire Henry

“Nature is so important to me, to my family,” Eddy said. “You can’t save the planet by addressing the whole planet. You have to start in one small area at a time and this is a way that I can make a difference in my own area.”

The artists are donating between 20 and 100 per cent of their earnings from the art sold during the exhibit.

Richard Vinson, communications chair for the advocacy group Friends of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes, said the artists are passionate about the cause.

“For artists to make this kind of contribution, that is just an enormous piece of their life that they are giving up here,” he said.

“When a piece of land is lost to development, it’s gone forever. We are not getting it back. In this area there is still a tremendous amount of wildlife. I think that’s what drives a lot of us.”

Kimberley Eddy creates her artwork using a mixture of acrylic, ink, sand, metallic pigments and resin.   Claire Henry

Allison Thorne, a conservation project co-ordinator with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, said the 575-acre property they are fundraising to buy and steward is a “critical missing gap” in the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area.

The property contains wetlands and covers an essential wildlife corridor. It’s home to the Canada Warbler, a bird that is listed as threatened. After making an agreement with the landowners, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust has until the end of June 2020 to raise $ 2.5 million to buy the land at a lowered cost.

Thorne said the exhibit is helpful to their fundraising campaign, which launched in October.

“We might not necessarily tap into a network of artists and their supporters, so [the exhibit] is bridging those two networks together.”

The WILD art exhibit will run in the Chase Gallery until Feb. 28.

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