November 8, 2017

Pop-Up Home Public Art: Meet Artist Annie Briard

A brand-new art project was unveiled at The Brewery District on October 28. The 'Pop-Up Home' piece was created by Annie Briard, a local contemporary artist whose work has been shown throughout North American, Europe, and Asia. Pop-Up Home is part of the City of New Westminster’s Canada 150 celebrations. For the rest of this Fall, you'll find this art on display at The Brewery District, in front of Browns Socialhouse.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Annie a few questions. Read on to see what she had to say:

What made you realize you wanted to become an artist?

When I was young, I realized that we don't all see the world in the same way. I noticed the physical differences in what we choose to see, for instance focusing on foreground or background, and what we were particularly drawn to.

As I grew up, I came to understand how what we see is formed by the ideologies we are exposed to, and sometimes by what we feel is in our best interests. Around the same time, I noticed the hierarchies of perception - how some visions are counted as more important or truer than others, and the consequential silencing of some perspectives that happens in that system. That's when I stopped drawing from photographs and objects around me, pursued my artistic studies in Montreal and then in Vancouver, and explored how I might address these ideas and discuss them with others through art.

From conception to creation and installation, how long did it take to create the ‘Pop-Up Home’ art installation?

It took about three months including coming up with the concept, working out the logistics, managing the public call, projecting and photographing around town, and editing the final files.

What message do you hope people take away from your ‘Pop-Up Home’ art installation?

Some of the ideas I was engaging with through producing this work included considering where we make our homes, accessibility issues surrounding housing, and space: who claims it and who is excluded, how we transform it, and how we make the decisions around how that space is claimed, transformed and used. I hope passersby and visitors will get something helpful out of the work, in whatever form that may be.

You invited submissions from the public to be included in this art installation. How did the public submissions affect the final artwork?

For public art projects, it's nice when the public can be involved during the production stage as well as when the work is unveiled, especially since they are asked to live with it. Public response was tremendous during my photographic process, however, few submitted images through the social media call. I think the idea of home and housing is a difficult one to grapple right now, and maybe there is pressure in trying to encompass many thoughts in one image. Or maybe people were just interested in seeing what others would say. There are a few images which includes public submissions, the others were sourced from Instagram with relevant hashtags. One important contributor whose image was used in the process of making the second panel is @temporaryinvestments; they're two emerging artists making interesting commentaries about architecture, the use of space and who claims it.

What makes New Westminster a good home for this art piece?

It's clear that New Westminster is in a time of transition in terms of infrastructure. What I found interesting during my walks around the city while producing this work is how old wooden buildings flank new concrete and glass edifices. My hope for growing cities is that they don't lose sight of their history, and keep its traces. In this case, I hope these wooden buildings will remain as important reminders of our trajectory, while also underlining what has already been erased. I was glad to have the chance to engage with and document these shifts for my project, though it too will be ephemeral.

Where can we see more of your work?

On my website at www.anniebriard.com and at my gallery, Back Gallery Project www.backgalleryproject.com.

Wesgroup is a proud sponsor of this art project, commissioned by the New Westminster Museum & Archives and New Westminster Arts Service and funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Click here to see photos from the Pop-Up Home art unveiling event.