Dickie's 'Home Grown' opens first Art Gallery professional season since 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After three years of cancellations, reschedulings and further cancellations, the Blyth Festival Art Gallery opened its first professional season on Friday night with an exhibition of photography by Lucknow-based photographer Hannah Dickie entitled “Home Grown”.
Gallery President Carl Stevenson, Exhibit Chair Kelly Stevenson and Blyth Festival General Manager Rachael King were all on hand to bring greetings and welcome art lovers back to the Bainton Gallery at Memorial Hall for the first professional exhibition since the late summer of 2019.
Carl Stevenson introduced the show and welcomed the more than 25 people in attendance. He said, as a bit of a photographer himself, he was thrilled that the gallery would be hosting Dickie’s work, as photography exhibitions have been few over the years at the gallery. He felt it was fitting, he said, that the gallery return to hosting professional work with an exhibition that so celebrates rural life and the fabric of Huron County as Dickie’s work does.
He said he and the gallery’s selection committee were blown away by what Dickie was creating and just how cohesive the storytelling was.
Kelly Stevenson spoke to her excitement in welcoming art lovers back to the gallery and having professional art up on the walls for the first time since 2019. She recounted the disappointment and repetition of calling Dickie and having to inform her that her show, originally scheduled to go ahead in the summer of 2020 (alongside an exhibition by Kelly Stevenson herself), had been cancelled time after time between 2020 and 2022.
However, after years of patience and perseverance, the three shows, scheduled to go ahead in 2020, will now be part of the 2023 season and Kelly Stevenson was emotional discussing the wait to arrive at where the gallery is today.
Kelly Stevenson said it was clear that Dickie has a talent for producing great images, but she also had a clear vision of how she wanted to present the show, which isn’t always clear for all artists who want to exhibit their work.
King also lauded the show and revelled in being able to welcome audiences back to the hall, pointing to the gallery as a vital piece of the puzzle for the Blyth Centre for the Arts.
Dickie spoke next, thanking her fiancé Colin Aerts and her parents Walter and Janet for their support and encouragement, adding a special thanks to Walter for allowing her to follow him around with a camera for years as he worked on their home, small-scale farm.
Dickie said she began shooting for the project in 2016 and it began as a photography documentary for her studies at Oakville’s Sheridan College.
Even then, her work to document her family’s life on the farm was entitled “Home Grown” and she worked on it throughout her post-secondary career, winning a number of awards along the way for her troubles.
She thanked everyone for coming to her show and lauded the Blyth Centre for the Arts itself, saying the community is so lucky to have the Blyth Festival, Blyth Festival Art Gallery and the centre’s other work producing such high-quality art in the heart of Huron County.
“Home Grown” will be on the gallery’s walls until July 15, when it makes way for a collective pottery exhibition curated by Seaforth-area potter Rob Tetu. Kelly Stevenson herself will close out the season with “How Far I’ve Fallen” beginning on Aug. 18.