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Marianne Nicolson: The Way In Which It Was Given to Us

Marianne Nicolson’s original animation for UrbanScreen speaks to the seizure of Indigenous lands.

Renowned multimedia artist Marianne Nicolson’s newly-created animation The Way In Which It Was Given to Us references the pictograph as a way of recording stories on the land.

Nicolson has explored the pictograph in previous works, including in her early large scale mural Cliff Painting (1998) and more recently in her banner project Inquiry to the Newcomers (2017). The originating images for the latter work are based on a real pictograph that exists at the mouth of the Kingcome River in coastal BC, home of the Dzawada̱'enux̱w People, and depicts original contact with trade ships in 1792. Other Nations local to Surrey share histories of contact, reserve commissions, and processes of dispossession. The artist’s UrbanScreen work is informed by this as well as research into Kwantlen and Semiahmoo pictographs. Nicolson’s work celebrates the re-emergence of Indigenous Peoples’ voices while articulating that there can be no true reconciliation between Indigenous and settler societies without an acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ displacement from their lands.

A commissioned essay by Siku Allooloo, as part of the Surrey Art Gallery Presents series, will be available online. Allooloo is a writer who is Inuit/Taino from Denendeh (Northwest Territories). Her work incorporates inherited legacies of resistance, continuity, and creative expression to support the revitalization and empowerment of Indigenous communities.

Above image: Marianne Nicolson, Inquiry to the Newcomers, 2017. Photo courtesy of the artist and Nanaimo Art Gallery. 

About the Artist

Marianne Nicolson is a linguist, anthropologist, and a visual artist of Scottish and Dzawada̱'enux̱w First Nations descent based in Victoria, BC. The Dzawada'enuxw People are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast.


Youth Night | Friday, September 22nd | 8:30pm

Youth from Chuck Bailey’s skate park and gym programs and the City’s Community Art Program will premier short films and digital artworks. The Gallery’s Art Together participants will also screen their film graffiti project made with mentoring artist Alex McKenzie. Marianne Nicolson's new original artwork for UrbanScreen will be available for viewing after. 

Artist Talk with Marianne Nicolson | Thursday, October 26 | 7−8:30pm

Marianne Nicolson will talk about her practice in relation to her new work developed for UrbanScreen. She will be joined in conversation by writer Siku Allooloo. The event will open with Semiahmoo welcoming remarks by Roxanne Charles.

Marianne Nicolson discusses her work in the exhibition To refuse/To wait/To sleep at the Walter C. Koerner Library and outside the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.