Al-Lisa McKay, otherwise known as Miss White Spider, is weaving a web of enchantment through Williams Lake this June.
With her show, Enchanted Forest, on in the upstairs gallery at the Station House Gallery, and a special shadow theatre performance of The Selkie Bride, at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre on June 20, Al-Lisa’s work recalls fairy tales.
In the Station House Gallery this month, Al-Lisa’s show focuses on the connections between the forests, the creatures in them, and ourselves with a number of fantastical works in a variety of mediums.
“I really wanted it to be about the interconnectedness of forests and the creatures that live in it because I feel like we don’t have one without the other,” she said. Her pieces include works made of oils, acrylics, ink and fabric, but also clay, bone and felt.
“We are all interconnected and we need each other and we need our forests. We are nature and that’s really what I wanted the essence of the show to be about.”
The pieces also have a bright playful flavour.
“I wanted kids to come. I wanted kids to come to the gallery and so I really wanted a really playful energy present because I feel like that is what nature is, innocence, children. I wanted children to really connect with that thankfulness of forests.”
Al-Lisa said that this particular show was more challenging to create, as she has recently moved to town and taken on a number of new jobs.
“I usually am a forest creature living out there. I usually have a lot more time and then I moved to town and I got this new job and I really had to work hard to create for the show because I didn’t have energy — at the end of the day I didn’t have energy to create, so I really had to carve my moments to make space to create.”
She said she is not a planner when she creates.
“I just have to start creating and I never know what anything is going to look like. I don’t know what it is going to become.”
The results are beautiful and imaginative.
But artwork is not all that Al-Lisa does, with her business, Miss White Spider Arts, she teaches a variety of fine arts workshops, but one of the facets of her diamond, as she puts it, also combines music, film and light to create shadow puppetry.
On June 20, she will be combining those skills into her performance of The Selkie Bride.
“It is a one-woman theatre. I’ll choose a region of a different country every year and then I will find a folk tale or folklore or ancestral teaching — something ancient from that place, and then I will create a shadow show about it.”
This year, Al-Lisa has taken the story of the Selkie Bride from Northern Scotland and the Orkney Islands.
“I was looking through all these folk tales and they are so dark, but the Selkie Bride was much lighter and I really resonate with just the romantic idea of being able to be of the sea and of the land.”
The Selkie Bride is a folktale about the women who take the form of seals in the sea, but can cast off their skins and become human outside the water.
Normally, Al-Lisa tours the show for the festival season, but she’s looking forward to performing in a theatre.
“I use paper puppetry and my own body, dance. I do videography so I will pre-film doing shadow puppetry so in real time I can cast that through film and use a film projector as my light source and then I can interact in real time with my paper puppets and my body and the puppets that I’ve built.”
Through the combinations of the different elements Al-Lisa hopes to transport people to Scotland, all while within the walls of the Studio Theatre.
The performance will take place on Wednesday, June 20 at 8 p.m. at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre in Glendale. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Open Book and Red Shreds.
Al-Lisa’s show at the Station House Gallery will be on until the end of June.