The stark images are hung in a room at the New Glasgow library.
They depict a mix of past and present, Curtis Botham’s take on industry in Pictou County.
A native of Mississauga, Ont., Botham is a 2016 graduate of Halifax’s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has been in Pictou County for almost a year, working in a large room above the library.
“I was interested in catapulting my art career out of school; I didn’t want to just sit around and spin my wheels and I found this was a good opportunity,” Botham explained.
He wanted to explore the past, present and future of industry in Nova Scotia.
“The transition period that it finds itself in, especially in smaller towns,” he said, “looking at the pulp mill and the coal industry here, and the history of that.
“I’m interested in seeing how a lot of towns in Nova Scotia are drifting away from the heavy industry that once defined these towns.
When he was looking at residencies, he saw Pictou County as sort of the centre of these industries.
“Coal mining, of course, was huge here (and there is) a push and pull between all the jobs they bring, and there are people who aren’t for them, because of the pollution, the controversies.”
Over the past year, he has been hosted in New Glasgow's studio residency program. When the library’s community room is not in use, the exhibit is open to the public for viewing until Aug. 28.
He hopes to present his work at the Studio Lab Gallery in New Glasgow in the next couple of months, or in the new year.
Botham prefers to work with charcoal.
“I just find it’s a really good medium for stark contrasts and tones. I really like black and whites, obviously – and this is sort of incidental, but I do like the connection it has to coal, but that’s more of an aside.
“It’s a really volatile medium. It’s incredibly messy, hard to work with, hard to preserve the work, but I like it so much.”
Botham maintains his is work is not intended to be preachy.
“I’m not trying to prosthelytize, I’m not trying to say I have all the answers. I don’t presume to know any more than the viewers, I just want to get people talking, establish some kind of a dialogue.”