Lorna McParland toils in culture shock and shocking culture creation as she gathers the reins of Kelowna’s edgiest gallery and tackles an adjustment to Okanagan life.
Over a decade ago, the Kelowna native packed her bags and set out on a journey of discovery at the internationally renown Glasgow School of Art.
“My family are from Scotland, so I was trying to figure out what it was like, and where I was going in my mid-20s. I started doing all this research on the Glasgow School of Art and found visual communication—that was it,” said McParland.
Though she had worked as a commercial photographer since she was 16, McParland was soon balancing the artistic and practical sides of her trade, earning an honours degree in the faculty, and chasing it with a master’s in media arts and imagining from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (University of Dundee, Scotland).
“Being situated in the arts world, visual communication focused on ‘the why’…constantly going back to how successful you are at getting your point across,” she said.
This should help in her new role as artistic and administrative director of the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art, where exhibits are known to shock as much as inspire and challenge the parameters of creative expression.
In the year since out-going director Jennifer Pickering left, the small gallery has struggled to find its own point and vision, hit by drastic provincial funding cuts and a need for consistent staffing.
McParland does not expect to come in guns blazing with a new direction either.
For her master’s degree, she worked with First Nations youth in Vernon, having them photographically illustrate their lives without using any direct images of themselves. Talking about creative process and how community projects can inspire personal creativity, she says the projects taught her a lot about the time and space needed to get from point-A to point-B in the creative process.
At least to begin, she sees her role with the gallery more as a facilitator’s position, planning to help the board of directors, largely artists, carry out their vision and invite the creative process in.