Just in time for Halloween Trick or Treating, artists Helen Reed & Hannah Jickling are launching a new public artwork commissioned by the City of Vancouver, QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE chewing gum.
The chewing gum is named for Queen Alexandra Elementary School, the home of the artists’ ongoing residency, Big Rock Candy Mountain. The gum release will coincide with the opening of the group exhibition Mouthfeel at Western Front, on display from November 1– December 15, 2018.
“We wanted our student co-creators to become sceptical consumers and also explore different flavour profiles,” said Jickling. Reed added, “In developing these edible projects, the kids learn about processes of production and the materials that comprise goods. Big Rock Candy Mountain doesn’t promote gratuitous candy consumption, but complicates the relationship to sweets as culturally defined objects of desire. We chose gum because it’s a difficult material: it’s sticky, messy, and even banned from public schools.”
The gum was developed through a series of classroom workshops with grade 6/7 students, teachers, support staff, and guest experts such as food scientist Kathrin Wallace. The research compared texture, natural and artificial flavours, and gum ingredients such as sorbitol and xylitol. The resulting QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE contains a uniquely abstract blend of both fruity and sweet notes, with some sharp and earthy tones. Students have variously described it as: “Hello Kitty bubble bath,” “pungent,” and “mysterious.”
At the artist-run centre Western Front, Mouthfeel, will provide further background to the commission, featuring several artworks that were shown to students during the gum’s research phase. QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE will be sold at the gallery and chewing gum in the exhibition is encouraged. On Halloween, the gum will be distributed at select East Vancouver locations, in addition to homes across Mount Pleasant, Commercial Drive, and the Hastings-Sunrise area. The Western Front will serve as the main distribution hub on October 31, 2018, from 5pm–8pm. Further retail locations will be announced on the Big Rock Candy Mountain website.
All proceeds from QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE will go towards future art programming at Queen Alexandra Elementary School.
Find out more about QA CHEW’S BUBBLE TROUBLE, the artists and Big Rock Candy Mountain online at bigrockcandymountain.ca