Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Pecha Kucha in Gibsons, BC: art and community unite

One of the photos from my Pecha Kucha presentation, taken of Tibetans  protesting the torch relay in San Francisco for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Fun with mouldy food. Road kill. Keeping communities creative. These three topics hardly seem to share a theme, yet they all came together last month in a wonderful visual presentation in Gibsons, BC.


As part of the town’s first Pecha Kucha night, nine Sunshine Coast residents each shared about six minutes of photos and storytelling on any subject of their choice. The rules were simple: 20 images, 20 seconds on each. This format, which draws its name from the Anglicized version of the Japanese term for “chit-chat,” started in Tokyo in 2003.


The Pecha Kucha framework began as a dynamic way for designers and architects to share their work in public without droning on about every miniscule detail; the images are programmed to switch automatically every 20 seconds, beyond the control of the speakers. Today, hundreds of cities around the world have hosted Pecha Kucha nights, drawing on the collective creativity and talent of their communities.


The Gibsons event made for a delightful evening of storytelling, from wry irreverency to poignant homage. Gibsons councillor Lee Ann Johnson started off with Creating Community Glue, followed by artist Junco Jan, who gave a heartfelt tribute to her recently deceased mother. Photographer Alan Sirulnikoff shared images as symbols of life and death while puppeteer Sandy Buck introduced her creations under the title Can Puppets Change the World? Photographer Barry Haynes showed local beauty shots of lesser-known getaways, taken from land and water, and had the audience guess the location of each. Coast Reporter arts reviewer Jan DeGrass explained her love of dance while Lou Guest gave comic close-ups of mouldy food in her piece, The Hairy Eyeball.


I was amazed to discover a talented, young glass artist, Robert Studer, who lives in my own community of Roberts Creek. I had never even heard of him before, even though he just lives across the highway and up the hill from me. He presented some of the large-format glass installations he’s done in public spaces and private homes, which resembled wavy lines of multi-coloured sky and giant other-worldly spheres. Incredible!


As a presenter, I was surprised at how nervous I was beforehand, because I usually enjoy public speaking and feel at ease with it. But the thought of this twenty-second time frame had me unnerved. Originally, I was going to do the whole thing ad lib, but decided to prepare a text in case I blanked out. In the end, I half read and half ad-libbed.


The packed house at The Arts Building was indeed appreciative, whistling and hollering after their favourites. Emcee Wendy Crumpler, who organized the event and spent many hours preparing the presentations on computer, created a warm, welcoming, and upbeat atmosphere. Much-appreciated thanks to her, all participants, and the audience. This made a great addition to the local arts scene.


(My evening’s contribution, Three Protests: Free Speech on the Street, can be viewed on YouTube.)




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February 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm Comment (1)