Big Rock Candy Mountain is a flavor incubator and taste-making think-tank between Hannah Jickling, Helen Reed and the students at Queen Alexandra Elementary School in East Vancouver, British Columbia/unceded Coast Salish Territories.

The project is comprised of edible editions, workshops, artist invocations, strange conversations, school ground installations and an Instagram conveyor belt of evolving ideas. Rather than investing in a single result, BRCM privileges the school as a kind of candy factory, engaged in a wide range of productive capacities and processes. Here, creative flavour-making, pop art riffs and explorations in kid-defined ‘persuasive’ language intersect with the larger context of economy, labour, taste-as-power and culturally defined objects of desire.

Big Rock Candy Mountain takes its name from the popular folk song that has been rewritten countless times to reflect changing comic utopia. Big Rock Candy Mountain is where we can hear a “buzzin’ of the bees in the peppermint trees, ’round the soda water fountains.” It is also a post-proportionate world where adults and rationality no longer define the rules and limits of what is possible.


Big Rock Candy Mountain is produced by Vanessa Kwan of Other Sights For Artists’ Projects. The website was designed and assembled by Chris Lee and Seungyong Moon.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the BC Arts Council Youth Engagement Program, The Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver School Board.

Queen Alexandra Elementary School is located on the unceded and traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples –  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.


Hannah Jickling & Helen Reed, Artists

Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling have been collaborating since 2006. Their projects take shape as public installations, social situations, and events that circulate as photographs, videos, printed matter, and artists’ multiples. They are currently fascinated with the contact high intrinsic to collaborative research, especially in their recent projects with children. Helen and Hannah have exhibited and performed internationally, with both individual and collaborative work appearing in such venues as: The Portland Art Museum (OR), The Dunlop Art Gallery (SK), Smack Mellon (NY), Doris McCarthy Gallery (ON), The Yukon Arts Centre Gallery (YT), YYZ Artists’ Outlet (ON), Carleton University Art Gallery (ON), Dalhousie University Art Gallery (NS), Bästa Biennalen (SE), The Vancouver Art Gallery (BC), The Power Plant (ON) and Flat Time House’s first issue of NOIT (UK). In Fall 2017 they released Multiple Elementary, a book that explores the elementary school classroom as a site of invention and reception of contemporary art practices, published by YYZBOOKS. Jickling and Reed are recipients of the 2016 Ian Wallace Award for Teaching Excellence (Emily Carr University of Art & Design), a 2017 Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Public Art (City of Vancouver) and a 2018 VIVA Award (Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts).

Vanessa Kwan, Producer/Curator

Vanessa Kwan is a Vancouver-based artist, writer and curator. As an artist, her work has involved the production of work in public space, and she has developed a practice that is often collaborative, site-specific and interdisciplinary. Recent projects include a large-scale permanent public artwork called Geyser for Hillcrest Park (with Erica Stocking), Sad Sack, a series of public events and collaborations on the subject of melancholy, and This Creeping Root, a moonlight garden. She is a founding member of the performance collective Norma, who were honoured with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Public Art in 2011. As performance curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, she produced FUSE, the gallery’s premiere performance event, from 2008 – 14. She currently works as Curator of Community Engagement with grunt gallery, where she produces socially-engaged work and special projects, and as Producer/ Curator with Other Sights for Artists Projects, an organization that commissions temporary artworks for the public realm.

Chris Lee, Designer

Chris Lee is a graphic designer and educator based Buffalo, NY, and Toronto, CA. He is a graduate of OCADU (Toronto) and the Sandberg Instituut (Amsterdam), and has worked for The Walrus Magazine, cmagazine, Metahaven and Bruce Mau Design. He was also the designer and an editorial board member of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy. Chris’ research explores graphic design’s entanglement with power, standards and legitimacy. He has contributed projects and writing to the Decolonising Design, Journal of Aesthetics & Protest, The Copyist, Graphic, Volume, and Counter Signals and has facilitated workshops in the US, Canada, Scotland, the Netherlands and Croatia. He has lectured at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, ArtEZ, The Sandberg Instituut, The Design Academy Eindhoven, and OCADU. Chris is an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo SUNY, a member of the programming committee of Gendai Gallery. He is design research fellow of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam (2017/18), participant of the fifth edition of the Summer University of the Bibliothèque Kandinsky at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. cairolexicon.com

Kylie Joe, Project Assistant

Kylie Joe is a First Nations interdisciplinary artist born in Chilliwack BC. She recently graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University in 2017 with a major in photography and a minor in social practice and community engagement. Her work deals with big issues on a smaller and more attainable scale so as to grant access to a wider audience whether it’s a visual art piece or a community or socially engaged piece. Joe has had works in the Eastside Culture Crawl, Vancouver Art/Book Fair, and Vancouver Folk Music Festival and in collaboration with ECUAD and the Vancouver School Board she has assisted in creating after school art programs for elementary schools. Currently she is volunteering at grunt gallery where she works within the archives while also providing assistance to other workers when needed.

Terry-Dayne Beasley, Project Assistant

Terry-Dayne is a Vancouver based artist working primarily with image making and performative sculpture. His main mediums are film production and installation. His works concern how humans interact with their built environments and nature. Terry-Dayne utilizes sculpture to illustrate how humans adapt to their surroundings, be it the city or nature. In his most recent works he has been interested in antagonizing the notion of location and space as depicted within photographs. Terry-Dayne completed his BFA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2017.


Special guests and project contributors: Cole Pauls, Holly Schmidt, Zoë Chan, Cease Wyss, Amy Nugent, Kathrin Wallace, Terrance Houle, Pablo de Ocampo, Ron Tran, Elizabeth Milton and Phranc.

Emily Carr student contributors Spring 2017: Lydia Bao, Dong Ding, Celina Hui, Ruby Liu, Vivian Ngo, Brianne Siu, Kylie Joe, Eve Lansink, Madison Mayhew, Grace Noh, Sam Taylor, Melanie Whorton and Willy Zhuang.

Emily Carr student contributors Fall 2017: Heena Chung, Martina Eckert, Ashley Gendron, Klara Kirsch, Esther Lovell, Yan Wan, Kerem Dogurga, Maya Gauvin, Taja Jinnah, Marija Kanavin, Michelle Ma, Ning Niu, Michael Peter and Yang Yu.