While some window fronts house handbags and shoes, one on Douglas Street holds something a little more “squishy and pink.”
The Inside (we are all) storefront is one of six art installations from the city’s Storefront Victoria Exhibition Program, all of which are located in the 700-block of Douglas Street.
BOXCARSIX, a feminist artist collective made up of eight women from the ages of 30 to 60, are the masterminds behind the storefront.
“We started brainstorming about what inside means,” says Clare Thomas. “… and then thinking about how to have an inside you have to have an outside … we make barriers in society that keep people or social groups out of places.”’
Something that connects us all, is the way our insides look, explained Thomas, adding that those insides usually tend to be pink.
“We wanted to create something, a physical embodiment of the thing all humans share,” she says.
Thomas describes the cluster of plush pink items housed in the window as soft and squishy, that people will either love or hate. The group deliberately used fabric that would be found in people’s home such as a fluffy robe or the bed “sheets your granny had.”
The storefront consists of hundreds of soft, hand-sewn, stuffed fabric sculptures of both anatomically correct and imagined bodily organs, cells and microbes.
“We chose things which, at first glance, just look like a whole lot of body bits but then you look closely and they’re made from fabrics from your childhood,” she says. “On the one hand, you get this familiarity feeling, but also a slight feeling of ickiness.”
This is the second iteration of the project, which was originally unveiled at the Ministry of Casual Living, a non-profit society that exhibited works of art on Haultain Street until 2012 and now runs two studios in Esquimalt and on Millie’s Lane.
“People react in two ways,” says Thomas, explaining how there are those that love it and want to touch everything and hang out in the space. “Some people said I can’t bear it.”
The program saw a number of submissions and artists were assessed on concept, execution and how their exhibit appeals to a diverse audience.
Along with Thomas, Mary Babineau, Celine Berry, Joanne Hewko, Jessica Jean, Kuyper Fernlong all took part in the creation.
“This has been a huge validation of our work,” says Thomas. “We’re just really happy to do something that makes the neighbourhood a little more fun.”