Gaze UP for NISA’s Annual Fall Art Show

Laura-Leigh Gillard is just one of the contributing artists at Gaze Up NISA’s Annual Fall Art Show and her piece “Bee Robber” features a Death’s Head Hawk Moth.

Gaze UP. If you do, you’ll see the work of more than 50 local artists living with mental illness who are: standing with dignity and strength in expressing their creative talents; asking others to look beyond the label of mental illness and see the whole person beneath; and, asking us all to cast our gazes up to see how the unique experiences of living in the north shapes mental health recovery.

Marking Mental Illness Awareness Week, NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a mental health organization run by and for people with lived experience of mental illness, welcomes the community to attend its Annual Fall Art Show: Gaze UP. On from October 1 to 9 at the Northern Water Sports Centre, with exhibiting times each day from 2-6 p.m. and an opening reception on Tuesday, October 4 from 5-8 p.m., the show will provide insight into mental health recovery in the North. The show is being generously sponsored by the Sudbury Canoe Club and the Northern Water Sports Centre, with support from the City of Greater Sudbury.

With the mediums as diverse as canvas, photography, rock carvings, rock and wire sculptures, painted birdhouses and painted canoe paddles, this year’s show will shine a light on the multi-faceted perspectives and stories to be found in the north.

Laura-Leigh Gillard spends much of her time marvelling at the beauty of nature, finding deep connections with her surroundings. “I’ve always been drawn to winged things, particularly moths and butterflies for their fragility and sense of mystery” she says. “Moths are symbolic of intuition, psychic perception and heightened awareness, and are known as ancient symbols of change, and new direction.” She will be one of the contributing artists at NISA’s Gaze UP Annual Fall Art Show.

NISA Gaze UP loon collage

The loon. It was the bird that got us talking about idioms that refer negatively to mental health (i.e. crazy as a loon, wild goose chase…) and was the spark for a bird painting/collaging workshop. We asked: “What bird are you? What’s YOUR story?” 16 unique creations were made. This is one. You’ll see them all at Gaze UP.

NISA regularly offers arts programming to its membership, and for the past five months artists have been creating and gathering pieces for this show. “We are thrilled to show our community the diverse, personal, and metaphorically-rich pieces that have been created by so many local artists,” says NISA’s Publishing and Communications Coordinator, Audrey O’Brien. “The Northern Water Sports Centre is located right on Ramsey Lake and it offers a perfect parallel in tone to the art that will be presented this year.”

The community is encouraged to attend the opening reception of the Gaze UP Fall Art Show on Tuesday, October 4 from 5-8 p.m. Many of the pieces are for sale. Also featured at the reception will be the launch of a special Northern Ontario edition of NISA’s literary magazine Open Minds Quarterly. Sudbury’s own poet Laureate Kim Fahner had two poems published in this issue. She says “It’s an honour to have my work published in this special edition of Open Minds Quarterly. As someone who has struggled with depression my whole life, writing has always offered me a conduit for expression, advocacy, and creativity. This northern place we call home, the beauty of its geography and environment, helps in healing as we write our words and give voice to our personal stories of survival. The bravery of the writing shared in this edition is inspiring to me.” Five of OMQ’s published writers will be on-hand at the opening reception to read their pieces from the latest issue.

Gaze UP Annual Fall Art Show Details

The Northern Water Sports Centre is wheelchair accessible and catering will be provided by Smith’s Market.  The event takes place on October 4, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a child-friendly space with some northern-inspired activities will keep little ones occupied.

People can find more details through the Facebook event page titled NISA’s Fall Art Show + Launch Party or by calling 705.222.6472 ext. 314.

NISA is a peer-based mental health organization that offers support to people living with mental health challenges. The organization develops occupational skills, nurtures self-confidence and provides resources for recovery by creating opportunities for participants to contribute to their own well-being and that of their community. Visit for more information.

The Northern Water Sports Centre (NWSC) is a Sudbury-based, non-profit organization established to support the programs of its founding partners: Sudbury Canoe Club, Sudbury Rowing Club, Sudbury Dragon Boats Festival and the City of Greater Sudbury. The NWSC aims to further develop community engagement with Ramsey Lake and encourage an active and healthy lifestyle by providing non-motorized water sport programming to the Greater Sudbury community. Visit for more information.

Daniel Nichol, born on October 8, 1883 was the first child born in the Sudbury region. His parents were Jules and Vitaline Nichol.
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According to the last census the biggest demographic in Sudbury is 50-54 year old females - 6,840.

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