Serendipity at ‘A Creature Chronicle’

The connecting quality of art.

“I’ll be sharing my video story at an event in Langley,” Amy Dyck told us at the end of our March local arts council critique session.

Maybe I should go to be a familiar face in the crowd, I thought. When I studied the details of “A Creature Chronicle,” however, I realized that stumbling upon the symposium in this way was destined to be more than just supporting a fellow artist. Discovering this event was the first of several serendipities.

My husband and I attended the April 27 evening session. Swallowfield Farm was easy to find, just down the road from Driediger Farms where we buy strawberries every June. The row of cars parked along the road was evidence that we were at the right spot. We walked down the short driveway that ended in two destinations: a barn on the left and an outbuilding on the right. Before we had time to ask ourselves which direction to take, a friendly lady exiting the outbuilding greeted us and invited us in for coffee and a cookie. The evening was off to a warmly hospitable start.

With coffees in hand we wandered into the barn, up the stairs, and into a spacious loft that held Betty Spackman’s art installation – a series of colourful and visually intense panels arranged in a circle, depicting mankind’s rich and varied history of faith and fable, fact and fiction. Beside the exhibition there was a stage and a seating area where groups of fellow attendees were chatting.

One name I’d seen on the program held special interest for me. As head of Imago, John Franklin had just curated the Crossings Exhibition in Toronto. I happened to have a poem published in this beautiful Lent-to-Easter art walk. Now I spotted John and met in person this promoter of Christian arts and artists in Canada.

John and Mary Franklin with the deGroots.
John Franklin and Amy Dyck.

Art as mediator

The evening was informative and engaging. Amy’s 20-minute video, where she explained and illustrated how art became both a companion and catharsis for her during a time of chronic illness, was moving and inspirational. In the talk that followed, John Franklin reminded us of the myriad ways that arts have been a mediator in our human troubles (from the Bogside Murals lamenting “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland, to the establishment of the international West-Eastern Divan Orchestra through the friendship of its Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian professor Edward Said). I wish all philosophers were as interesting and easy to understand! We walked back to our car in the cool evening air, feeling stimulated and wanting more.

A few days later I took out my ‘A Creature Chronicle’ program to see what other event I might want to attend. I noticed that the theme for April 30 was “Who Are We Really?” The morning featured panel talks on posthumanism and transhumanism – two terms I had just encountered in a Bible study on end times. Here was an opportunity to learn about these subjects from Christian specialists! I was about to make a reservation to attend when I recalled that these talks were also going to be live-streamed. And so on the rainy morning of April 30, I learned about posthumanism, transhumanism and many other interesting concepts from the comfort of my living room.

The symposium has ended, but the recorded sessions are still available for viewing online. Have a look. Who knows but that you may stumble into some serendipities of your own?


  • Violet Nesdoly

    Violet Nesdoly lives near Vancouver, B.C. She has been a poetry columnist and editor, had poetry and prose published in a variety of print and online publications, and authored two novels. Besides writing she enjoys making art, reading, and walking local nature trails with her husband, camera in hand.

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