With a welcome grant from UBC’s Hampton Fund, Nancy Holmes (Associate Professor, Creative Writing) in collaboration with local Kelowna artist, Lori Mairs, created The Woodhaven Eco Art Project from April 2010- November 2010. It was a year- long eco art project in Kelowna’s Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, a 22-acre park which has several unique ecological features, including endangered species. Several UBC professors and their students, as well as community artists, were invited to create work in and for the park in order to raise awareness of its existence and its ecologically significant features.
Because the park had been closed for some years due to tree hazards, and because it is a relatively small piece of land on the edge of urban development, it remained neglected despite its eventual opening. People who lived nearby barely knew it existed, and at times it was abused. During the eight-month eco art project, hundreds of people attended the events, and over 70 artworks were created including performances, audio guides, community poetry, sculptural installations, and interventions of all sorts. At the end of the project, 36 artworks were in the park, and others are housed on the Woodhaven Website.
The Regional District of the Central Okanagan, which was a partner in the project, assesses the success of the project as phenomenal. The eco art project was instrumental in increasing visits to the park fourfold and the neighbourhood’s sense of stewardship has also substantially increased. As artists, both Nancy Holmes and Lori Mairs gained experience as filmmakers and with community-based work, created new work, collaborated extensively with each other and many other artists, and explored new genres. A catalogue of the artwork is available and a film of the project can be found here.