Josef Jacobson | News Bulletin

Photo Credit: Jim Holyoak makes his Nanaimo Gallery debut with his immersive exhibition Arborescene

Gallery Transformed Into Indoor Forest

'Arborescence' brings to life the mysteries of forests and trees

The artist hopes to create a feeling of “immersive entanglement”

Have you ever had an idea that captivated you?

Jim Holyoak has. The forests of British Columbia remained alive in the Nelson-based artist’s imagination for years. 

“Even when I was living abroad, if somebody asked me where I was from, I’d close my eyes, and I’d immediately see fir trees in the fog,” he says. “I feel like I’ve carried that part of my home in B.C. with me everywhere I’ve gone.”

Now through April 9, Holyoak’s forest-themed exhibition Arborescence will be displayed at Vancouver Island University’s View Gallery.

This exhibition features two large ink paintings, Thicket and Energy, depicting maze-like forests wrapping nearly 114 feet around the 11-foot walls of the gallery. These pieces were inspired by Holyoak’s experience hiking the infamous West Coast Trail in Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park

A soundscape of forest sounds like drips and bird calls will fill the gallery.  Holyoak describes a forest as a place that is both indoor and outdoor, and as one enters, “there’s this strong sense of being in a tangled, hidden, darkened place that’s teeming with life and secret, hidden things everywhere you look.”

His smaller drawings from these hikes are also on display.

“I’m hoping my drawings will evoke that sensation, too, that as you travel around with your feet through the gallery, you’ll also travel around with your eyes,” Holyoak says. “That’s the labyrinthine, maze-like sensation. A sense of movement and metamorphosis and change and transformation everywhere you look.”