Bonnie Blink exhibit a culmination of two years of research, development

Visitors to the opening of the Bonnie Blink exhibit at the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah peruse the indoor installations, including this pottery by Lynda James. photos by Alicia McCutcheon

SHEGUIANDAH—Last Thursday evening, the artists and collaborators of the Bonnie Blink Project—the 4elements land use history project that centred around Bass Lake’s Bonnie Blink house and the village of Sheguiandah with the help of artists and Queen’s University geography students gathered for the opening of the Bonnie Blink exhibit in 2012 through both gallery and outdoor installations at the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah.

From children’s photographs to pottery and tapestry arts inside to rocks in many forms and walkable thought lines in the form of leaves outside, a sizable crowd amassed to view the projects that were two years in the making.

Michael Belmore’s work ‘Outcropping’ was a popular one. Taking two separate stones, Mr. Belmore, a well-known First Nations artist from Upsula, just north of Thunder Bay (4elements executive director Sophie Edwards gushed her pleasure at having been able to lure him to Manitoulin for two weeks during her opening remarks), cut the stones to appear as though they were once joined, but had cracked, which were covered with copper leaf on the inside “crack” of each stone. The effect was an illuminative display that glowed when the sun’s rays hit the copper leaf. Although no heat is created from the display, the viewer’s mind believes it to be warm. Many passersby held their hands over the rocks, believing they could feel heat but knew it couldn’t be true.

Michael Belmore ‘warms his hands’ over his outdoor installation ‘Outcropping,’ which can be seen at the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah.
Michael Belmore ‘warms his hands’ over his outdoor installation ‘Outcropping,’ which can be seen at the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah.

“I was here two years ago at the beginning,” Mr. Belmore said. “It’s good to be back.”

During his first time with the Bonnie Blink crew two years ago, Mr. Belmore created a beaver dam out of deadwood after he found a lodge in the field of the Bonnie Blink house and decided to emulate it. As the project took place in the fall, dead leaves found on the ground surrounded the lodge and acted as ‘water.’ Mr. Belmore called it a “nod to change.” Farmers change the field, as does nature. “Nature, or something beyond us, changes too.”

The feeling of warmth brought about by ‘Outcropping’ represents finding warmth, or fire, which equals finding comfort. “And that’s what the Bonnie Blink is about, and that’s why people are on Manitoulin—one part solitude, one part comfort.”

The exhibit continues until Wednesday, July 23 at the Centennial Museum of Sheguaindah, Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am to 4:30 pm, Thursdays from 9 am to 8 pm and Fridays through Sunday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.