Napa North is a visual essay created by the Vancouver artist Henry Tsang in which he explores the recent success of British Columbia's burgeoning wine industry and the accompanying real estate and agritourism boom experienced along the Okanagan Corridor. The old orchards and family farms are yielding one by one to the development pressures of the vineyards and subdivisions on what seems to be almost a daily basis. Adding to this pressure is the intense interest from people living in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and beyond who are looking to invest in the region's real estate based on the highly romanticised ideal of the Okanagan lifestyle.
In creating this body of work Henry attempts to discover what forces are at work behind this frenetic growth. He looks at the loss of personal and physical history which is erased when the land is cleared to accommodate these new developments. How does this development change our region's identity? What is lost when the traditional agriculture industry, which entrails the labour intensive growing of food, is replaced by the development of vineyards which have become the new hallmark for luxury living?
Throughout this process Henry Tsang has worked closely with regional stakeholders in the wine, food, land development and cultural communities to produce this important visual essay. This is the third incarnation of this exhibition after two previous installations at the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art and the Kelowna Art Gallery. This exhibition causes one to stop and look more closely at the surrounding environment and take note of the character of this valley as it is today and how it has changed over recent history. In so doing, it is sure to awaken a greater awareness of out environment and the direct impact our lifestyle is having upon it.
Henry Tsang is an artist, independent curator and educator whose artwork had been exhibited across Canada and internationally. He is currently the head of Critical and Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr Institute of Art+Media+Design in Vancouver. Napa North was originally commissioned by the Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art in Kelowna and is supported by the Spirit of BC, Arts Partners in Creative Development, and the Audain Foundation.