Did you know that Shelly Creek is the only fish-bearing stream in Parksville, BC? This summer, the urban creek is the inspiration for an art installation combining glass, metal art, painting, photography and other art forms. Participating artists are Kelly Corbett, Deborah Freeman, Haa’Yuups, Robert Held, David MacKenzie, Jesse Recalma, Nelson Shaw and Christopher Smith. The exhibition runs until August 28, 2022
“Focusing on the unique beauty of our special urban spaces, these amazing local artists bring their incredible talents to create an exhibit that will showcase the story of one of the last local waterways that bears salmon and trout populations and what we can do to sustain and even enhance them for future generations to enjoy. From cathedral-like images of Shelly Creek filling the windows in the beautiful Concert Gallery, three incredible painted canvasses providing background for a glass and steel cutthroat trout population, huge aerial map of Shelly Creek populated with photographic images of the flora and fauna of the area, to a jaw-dropping centrepiece – a glass simulated waterfall into a rain garden, incorporating colour and light – this exhibit promises to be a spectacular summer experience.” (source https://mcmillanartscentre.com/the-tale-of-one-urban-creek/)
About the Exhibition
As you enter the gallery you are enveloped in an artistic representation of the natural setting of Shelly Creek. Banner-sized photographs of the forested area cover the windows and you immediately feel as if you’re walking in the woods. Three large paintings depicting different sections of the creek hang on another wall. In the centre of the exhibition is an amazing waterfall created from glass raindrops – Robert Held’s contribution to the exhibition. More than 600 raindrops hang suspended over a rain garden of native plants.
This image shows the work of Christopher Smith (kiln cast glass fish) and Nelson Shaw (metal artist). It depicts the adult fish swimming above the gravel stream bed. In the background is a painting by Kelly Corbett. (photo C. Smith)
Creating the Waterfall
The raindrops were created by the glassblowers at Robert Held Art Glass. Molten clear glass was gathered on a punty (iron rod used in glassblowing) then rolled on a marver to create a smooth shape. Holding the punty at an angle, the glass was hung to allow gravity to work its magic and stretch the glass into a raindrop shape. Once each raindrop cooled down overnight in the annealer, a torch was used to reshape the thin end and create a looping for hanging. The glass raindrops range in length from 12-18 inches. You can imagine how much work was involved to create 600+ raindrops and tie each one twice with clear fishing line for hanging. It took days of planning and two mornings to set up the waterfall, suspending the raindrops and coloured lights from the ceiling at the McMillan Arts Centre.
If you would like to create your own waterfall, please contact us at Robert Held Art Glass, where raindrops are available for purchase.
About Shelly Creek, Cutthroat Trout and Coho Salmon
Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) provides the following information. “Shelly Creek drains from the base of Little Mountain in Parksville, BC and flows northeast into the Englishman River, approximately 2 km from the Strait of Georgia. The confluence is located 200 m upstream of the Island Highway 19(A) Bridge. This stream channel is approximately 6.5 km long, draining a watershed area of approximately 5 km².” Volunteers from MVIHES have been monitoring the health of Shelly Creek for many years, assessing the number of pools, amount of gravel in stream beds, streambank erosion and physical obstructions, and monitoring the migration of coho from the creek.
Shelly Creek is home to cutthroat trout and coho salmon. The health of the creek affects the fish populations that rely on the creek for spawning, maturation and migration. Females of the cutthroat trout and coho salmon create hollows (redds) in the gravel of freshwater stream beds and lay their eggs. Male fish fertilize the eggs, which then incubate and hatch into tiny fish called alevins. The alevins continue to live in the gravel until they no longer have a yolk sac, at which point they are called fry. These juveniles can take three or more years to mature.
Coho salmon fry may spend up to a year in fresh water streams and rivers. Prior to migrating to the ocean they undergo physical changes that enable them to survive in salt water. At this stage they are called smolts. Both coho fry and smolts inhabit Shelly Creek. (photo MVIHES)
The City of Parksville has developed four parks, three that are proximal to each other near the top of Corfield Street and one that is located at Shelly Road Centre. Use this link to see a map of the parks.
ResourcesMid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society “committed to the recovery of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement”. https://www.mvihes.bc.ca/current-initiatives/shelly-creek
Coastal Cutthroat Trout BC Fish facts link
Life cycle of salmon https://www.bcsalmon.ca/biology-lifecycle