News and Events

James Wilson (’19) Exhibit “Once We”

James is an IPS alumni student (‘19) currently attending grade 12 at Rockridge Secondary School.

Recently, he returned to IPS to share his “Once we” exhibit.

The purpose behind his exhibit came from a prompt by the Emily Carr University of Art and Design that he make a model of something that could be exhibited in a public space, as a part of his application to the university. James started to explore the idea of using photographs. He became interested in telling the story of how different the life of the Bowen Island Rockridge student is from the rest of the students at Rockridge.

It was when he was reading the book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, that one of the quotes she used really resonated with him. He began to take photos to pair with the quote, and in doing so, decided he wanted to actually exhibit his work instead of just making a model.

“Once we lived on an island in the ocean. Once we took the ferry to go to high school, and at night the sky was brilliant in the absence of all these city lights. Once we paddled canoes to the lighthouse to look at petroglyphs and fished for salmon and walked through deep forests, but all of this was completely unremarkable because everyone else we knew did these things too, and here in these lives we’ve built for ourselves, here in these hard and glittering cities, none of this would seem real if it wasn’t for you.”

That led to James asking Emily St John Mandel for permission (which was very quickly given) and approaching possible West Van locations to exhibit. He has been in touch with numerous venues on the North Shore with an eye to creating a public exhibit.

He wanted to bring this exhibit to Island Pacific School to share with our current students his journey in creating this, and also some of what he’s been doing since leaving IPS in 2019.

James invites you to visit where there is a survey asking for people to add their own experience about living on or visiting an island, by filling in the blank, “Once we….” and/or adding adding comments. It would be really great to get some of the kids to go there and scan the QR code and submit their responses.

Thank you James for sharing this next step of your journey with us!