Flavourcel’s ‘I Spy a City’ at the Surrey Art Gallery a ‘Sumptuous Feast for the Eyes’

Flavourcel I Spy a City install view 2 Photo by Brian Giebelhaus A

By Perrin Grauer

Posted on April 06, 2021 | Updated April 13, 2021, 8:01AM

The new public exhibition spotlights the diverse range of talent and approach among members of the animation collective.

A new animation exhibition by Flavourcel animation collective recently debuted at the Surrey Art Gallery’s UrbanScreen outdoor projection space.

The work, titled I Spy a City, takes a cue from the “I spy” children’s game. Running from a half-hour after sunset until midnight each night, the outdoor projection presents an animated parade of sights and objects drawn from across the Surrey region.

“Visitors to UrbanScreen are invited to ‘spy’ the things that connect with them: nearby shop facades, local ingredients, Surrey wildlife, popular sports, and more,” the gallery writes in its introductory text.

“Spinning SkyTrains soar over dancing streetlights, smashed skateboards, and swimming salmon, while pagodas, volleyball nets, and satellite dishes shiver and spin. The coldness of concrete and metal contrasts with the warmth of parks, food, and nature. Working with rotating and looping animations, Flavourcel seeks to create pockets of life and connection within the social context of Surrey.”

Flavourcel I Spy a City install view 1 Photo by Brian Giebelhaus A

Each individual member of Flavourcel approaches animation in a distinct way, making I Spy a City a richly textured and diverse moving artwork.

Viewers interested in repeat viewings will also find plenty to keep them guessing; different Flavourcel members will be “re-mixing” I Spy a City throughout the exhibition. The outlandish characters, fantastical mini-narratives, and surreal scenarios will evolve as each is reinterpreted through a particular artist’s lens.

“True to their name, Flavourcel offers up a sumptuous feast for the eyes,” Rhys Edwards, assistant curator at the gallery, says. “Surrey Art Gallery is delighted to showcase the extraordinary talent of these young artists. Their creative energy is boundless, and it’s on full display in I Spy a City.”

Flavourcel members include Lana Connors, Gil Goletski, Alia Hijaab (BMA 2018), Harlo Martens, Kat Morris (BMA 2018), Chhaya Naran (BMA 2018), Josh Neu (BMA 2018), Laurel Pucker (BMA 2018), Julia Song (BMA 2018), and Chris Strickler (BMA 2018). (Gil and Chris currently work as studio technicians in ECU's animation department; Alia works as an organizer with Emily Carr Students' Union).

“Born out of a desire to break down the institutional barriers that limit animators and introduce play into their work, Flavourcel produces experimental animations in a variety of styles,” Flavourcel writes in its group bio. “From hand-drawn cell-shading to digital doodles, music videos, and gifs, each artist pushes the boundaries of the medium and challenges the preconceptions of how animated art should be made.”

As part of the gallery’s Art Together programming series, Flavourcel members are creating instructional videos on how to make animations at home. Topics include creating one-frame loops, basic digital animation, and hand-drawn animations with paper and pencil. The videos will be released via gallery social media channels.

The first video, “Wire-frame Animation with Julia Song” is available for viewing now, via YouTube. You can catch I Spy a City at the gallery’s UrbanScreen (on the west wall of Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre) through May 2. Find out more about Flavourcel animation collective at