I’ve known Peter for over 30 years now. He is one of the most creative and positive people I have ever met. It was great to be together again and we had a lot of catching up to do, but Peter was itching to tell me all about a new creative project.
Peter is the vice-president of sales for the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). As you will see, he will show us how sometimes thinking ‘inside the box’ is a great approach!
Gil: So what has you so excited, Peter?
Peter: It’s something called the ContainerArt project.
Gil: The ContainerArt project?
Peter: Yes! It all started back in January 2009. For some time I had been trying to find a way to put contemporary urban art in the fair. With the PNE approaching its 100th anniversary in 2010, I was looking for something leading edge to amaze fairgoers, while at the same time finding a way to help local artists expose their own work.
Peter: I was having a discussion with local artist Neal Nolan, and he asked me if I had ever seen a concept used in Europe called ContainerArt where artists produced installations in shipping containers that were then placed around cities for display.
Gil: What a great idea. I’ve heard about some very creative uses for shipping containers recently, but this is totally new to me.
Peter: Shipping containers are widely used for shipping today. In fact, as of 2005, 18 million containers were being used globally. With the economic slow-down of the last two years, many are sitting dormant. As you know, there are many ideas about reusing these building blocks for other things such as buildings, homes, offices, portable restaurants, showrooms etc. Since most of our fairgrounds are open to the elements, there were many things about the containers that interested me. Using them, I could create something that was sealed to the elements, already raised off the ground, and could be locked up at night.
Gil: So how did you proceed with this?
Peter: After much consideration, I decided that instead of just having art in each piece I would use the containers to build a contemporary gallery. Because the containers left no visible mark when they were taken away and we were reusing old containers, it was also highly sustainable. When we put out the call to action to local artists, we also told them they could leave no visible mark after their installation was removed. No holes, or glue or painting could be done on the actual container. So the whole thing was themed on “No Visible Mark.”
With all of this in mind, I designed a piece that featured five large arches with a central courtyard. In the courtyard I added a fountain from sculptor Douglas Walker made from reused musical instruments and a 10-foot container. The central container contained a sound system and we built a frame on top to house large moving searchlights. We added some special effects lighting and two moving light units at the front entrance. During the day it was an art gallery with a soundtrack, but at night it looked like an electric Mayan ruin with music and a great light show.
Although we could have done this on our own, we decided to work closely with the ContainerArt company in Italy. This allowed us to develop a relationship with Europe and expose our artists on a global level. If you look at their website, you can see all of the places this idea has been exhibited.
Gil: What an incredible project Peter. How was it received?
Peter: Well, we built it and people’s reactions were amazing. The quality of work and effort the artists put in shone in the individual containers, and it seemed to appeal to every age group. Best of all, each of the artists we worked with received a lot of attention through the exposure of their work.
The first review came from wallfarmers.ca who said: “This exhibit is by far the most intrepid art event I have ever seen in Vancouver.” …. “The sheer mass of this project should be received with as much time as you could possibly spare.”
A few days later, the Vancouver Courier published this article: Italian-inspired container exhibit brings art back to the PNE.
The following week the Globe and Mail wrote this about the ContainerArt project: Art Inside The Box.
Follow Up for the ContainerArt Project
Peter Male went on to select Brittany Mitchell – one of the Vancouver artists – to display her work at ‘Box Shock’, an art event over in Milan. This attached both the PNE and the City of Vancouver to their event. He also won an award from the Western Association Of Fairs based in California and an award for “Best New Concept” at the Canadian National Fair Conference, where he spoke about the ContainerArt exhibit.
Since then, art websites and book publishers have approached Peter for more information. As well, other large fairs have expressed interest in the concept.
Peter has provided us with a must see video from the PNE of the ContainerArt exhibit coming to life. It features a beautiful sound track. He also shared some photos of this amazing project and a few flickr photo streams with lots of great pictures. You can find them under the video below. Click on any of the pictures to see them in full size. Please leave comments for Peter as he will be checking Life As A Human for your responses.
flickr photo streams
Additional Photo Credits
Sousa Circus III Sculpture @ Douglas Walker
Teaser thumbnail and feature photo @ Craig Hodge
Fireworks over the exhibit @ Teresa Corsie
Photo of Peter and Kendyl @ Corrinne Wolcoski