Community Visions
of Sustainability

Organized by Ilka Bauer & Gabriela Hirt

Heatwaves, floods, fires, drought — the warming climate is messing with life as we know it and it is getting harder and harder to not despair. But what can we do? Aiming to find an answer through art, we launched a new community project, The Postcard Climate Show. “We came up with this project because we wanted to bring hope through art and help release climate-related feelings of angst,” explains member artist Ilka Bauer, one of the masterminds behind the project. “Our intention was to bring the community together while encouraging people to talk and think about what can be done.” One does not have to be an artist to draw, write, stitch, paint or collage to answer the question: what change would you like to see in society for a climate-friendly future? Or what steps would you be personally willing to take? Wolfie, at three and a half years the youngest participant, sent in his drawing with the priority: “Leaves are important — we need to be respectful to not rip them.” More than 600 submissions reached us. Artists, families, seniors, University students and professors, environmentalists, and adults with disabilities through the Garth Homer Society enthusiastically answered the call. Postmarks arrived from as far away as Nova Scotia, Virginia and Germany. Locally, the activity was also a hit with students in elementary and middle schools, where teachers incorporated it into science or art lessons. “I love that the project focuses on hope rather than doom and gloom,” says Kathryn Cook, a Victoria elementary teacher. “It is a perfect two hour unit. The students really enjoy the lesson.” Participants were encouraged to explain their idea on the back of their artwork, note their first name, and if they wanted, their age. Postcards ranged from heartwarming to profound and chilling, sad, and sometimes hilarious. “Don’t waste, finish your dad’s leftovers. Be amazing for human kind, so do not waste anything!,” is the advice received from a grade three student in Victoria. “Collecting the art in our drop-off boxes around town is like finding a treasure, everytime,” shared Gabriela Hirt, Gage artist and co-organizer. “Each postcard is unique, the scope of originality is just breathtaking.” Because both sides of the artwork are important to be seen, the postcards were displayed hanging in clusters from a handmade net structure. Strings of cards  floated at eye level, some quite low, so children could see them. “We imagine the installation to resemble a web symbolizing our dependence on the natural world and our connectedness with each other,” said Hirt. All submissions were  exhibited, and a small selection printed as art cards for sale during the show to raise funds for Sierra Club BC. The Postcard Climate Show ran from February 22 to March 6, 2022 at the Gallery.