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Sydney Pickering explores history and family in exhibition “nk̓sáytken” at Beaumont Studios
The recent grad received the exhibition as part of the Vancouver Art Attack Award for Excellence in Visual Arts awarded at graduation
Image of the artist standing in a gallery against a wall of poetry.
Sydney Pickering at Beaumont Studios. Image courtesy of the artist.

Sydney Pickering (BFA 2021) is no stranger to having her work on public display since graduation, but nk̓sáytken is different. Sydney is a member of the Líl̓wat nation, and nk̓sáytken (pronounced n-kuh-shayt-ken) in Ucwalmícwts translates to ‘family’.

“When I was thinking about the title, I was thinking about how all the pieces together came together. The artwork in this exhibition reflects history and stories of the past while also capturing joyful moments with family in the present,” explained Sydney. “What I have learned and created up until now couldn’t have been done without the support of my family. The title came from a conversation with my cousin when I was having trouble thinking of a title and he suggested the word ‘family’ which seemed fitting.”

nḱsáytken is an installation-based exhibition that reflects upon memories and stories that work through feelings of strength, grief, yet also contemplate feelings of hope for the future.

“This exhibition admires the perseverance of family and ancestors, while continuing to endure the hardships that continue to be inflicted on the land and our people, this concept simultaneously tries to exist and experience in moments of joy and dream,” reads a statement about the exhibition.

Sydney’s practice is multi-disciplinary and includes hide tanning, video, sound, beadwork and poetry. She uses her work to share her family’s story, speak about identity and what it is like navigating a colonial society as an Indigenous person.

“This exhibition has been different than the others because the narrative of this show is derived from the context of my work instead of if it were accompanied by other artists work. I didn’t realize how nervous I would be at the idea of having my artwork stand alone in a show,” shared Sydney. “For a while, I have been finding comfort in having other people’s work surrounding mine, but it is a comfort zone I have been happy to move out of. I feel more challenged and inspired to create new works for the future.”

nḱsáytken was a collaborative curatorial process between Sydney Pickering and Kirsten Larsen of the Beaumont Studios. “Kirsten has been amazing to work with,” said Sydney. “I was very involved with the process. We each had our own ideas for the exhibition and the collaboration of both of our perspectives ended up making for some really beautiful visual aspects of the show.”

Sydney continued to say that she hopes the audience is able to form their own interpretations of the work, but also understand the context of the stories being shared. “I hope they understand that a lot of the stories presented in the work are about the history of this place that we live in and that it is still relevant and affects us to this day,” explained the artist.

What’s next for Sydney? She is hoping to create a new series of works, including a series of prints in relation to her work that is in this exhibition. “I am hoping to complete my MFA as well,” said Sydney, “and in the future have a space at home in Mount Currie where I can teach and host land-based material practice workshops.”

nḱsáytken is on until August 28th and Sydney will be stopping by the gallery Thursday, August 26th after 4 PM. B1 Gallery is open Thursdays – Fridays 11am – 6pm and by appointments on the weekends. To book an appointment contact the gallery director Kirsten at:

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