This photo from the Royal BC Museum shows soldiers of the 48th Battalion (Canadian Expeditionary Force) marching down Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria in 1915. The image is part of an exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford.

This photo from the Royal BC Museum shows soldiers of the 48th Battalion (Canadian Expeditionary Force) marching down Government Street in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria in 1915. The image is part of an exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford.

Three new exhibitions at The Reach explore creativity and conflict

Shows open at Abbotsford gallery on Thursday, Sept. 27

The Reach launches a new season of exhibitions with an opening reception on Thursday, Sept. 27.

The reception begins at 7 p.m. at The Reach (32388 Veterans Way) and is free to the public. Guests are invited to meet the artists, connect with the arts community, and enjoy refreshments.

The feature exhibit is Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, which is organized and circulated by the Penticton Art Gallery in partnership with Cyrrus Gallery, Damascus.

The show features almost 100 paintings, photos, videos, and sculptures created by 20 contemporary Syrian artists.

It provides a unique window into the lives and minds of those affected by the devastating civil war through their art.

In the midst of a conflict that has gripped the entire world, this exhibition is meant to build a greater understanding of the Syrian people, their art, rich culture, history, and the turmoil their country is undergoing.

RELATED: Syria marks 7 years of war; thousands leave besieged enclave

Reduced versions of Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art have been shown in small venues across B.C., Alberta, and the Yukon for over a year.

This presentation at The Reach not only represents an opportunity for the exhibition to be shown again in its entirety, it will also include several new works not previously exhibited.

Several Arabic-language tours will be offered while the exhibition is on display, and an Arabic translation of the exhibition catalogue is being organized.

As a complement to the feature exhibition, The Reach is presenting a solo exhibition of the work of Calgary-based artist Dick Averns, titled Ambivalence Blvd.

In 2009, Averns was embedded with Canadian troops in the Middle East as a part of the Canadian Forces Art Program, gaining access to first-hand art-making in areas of conflict.

This exhibition includes examples of the resulting large-scale photographic works as well as a survey of Averns’ evolving series of performances and videos also titled Ambivalence Blvd. (1999-ongoing).

A cogent investigation into the use and control of public space, Ambivalence Blvd. has continually been updated to reference contemporary events and sites of power, including the 2016 US primaries and public rallies of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Rounding out this season of exhibitions is British Columbia’s War, 1914–1918, a touring exhibition on loan from the Royal BC Museum.

RELATED: B.C. museum receives donation of 52-million-year-old fossils

The RBCM dug deep into its collections to unearth powerful material about the Great War that aims to educate British Columbians about the contributions of their forebears in the First World War.

Using archival photographs, fascinating stories, and artifacts, the exhibition examines how the province coalesced around this traumatic global event.

With touching examples of trench art, the exhibition resonates with both Behind the Lines and Ambivalence Blvd., demonstrating how acts of creative expression have long played a role in surviving and parsing the trauma of violent conflict.

Materials drawn from The Reach’s own historical collections will relate the global narrative to local stories and will elaborate on the local experience.

This series of exhibitions is on display until Jan. 6. General admission to The Reach is always free. Visit thereach.ca for more information.