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Writer’s snapshots suggest sacred stories at the Roberts Creek Library

Jane Covernton’s photography featured at community library
Author and photographer Jane Covernton uses a frosty mirror to collect nature imagery (and a self-portrait).

One of the Sunshine Coast’s most intimate libraries is fittingly the setting for a new photography exhibition exploring the unique relationship between place and self-identity. 

Jane Covernton’s show Here I Am / I Am Here opened at the Roberts Creek Community Library last week. Covernton’s images represent her belief that human beings are kin to all living beings — animal, vegetable, and otherwise. 

“I have a spiritual practice and to me everything is divine,” said Covernton. “I wrote a book of poetry in 2014 called Wheresoever You Turn, and the idea is that wheresoever you turn, there is the face of God. That’s what my poems are about, but the photos are more accessible.” 

Many of Covernton’s images began as snapshots posted for general inspiration on select social media platforms. She began to compile them for a possible gallery installation. Meanwhile, she began the process of printing the images, transmuting the digital depictions of physical things — flowers, leaves, the mountain that rises above her Roberts Creek home — back into the three-dimensional world. 

“The ones that I chose were ones that I hoped could be seen from a bit of a distance,” she explained, “because you couldn’t get right up close to them to see a lot of detail. The pictures are my way of being here. I see something right here and I just quickly take a picture and it makes a connection between me and what I see — and between me and my sense of the divine.” 

Covernton has a deep-seated relationship with the Roberts Creek Community Library, having lived in the Creek for 73 summers (full-time for the last 14 years). Librarians chuckle that her membership number is among the lowest in circulation, denoting long-lived borrowing privileges. 

She is also a contributor. Covernton’s three novels, book of essays and poetry are included in the library’s holdings. Her tome A Little Handbook of Instruction for the End Times was published in 2019, ending a five-year personal creative drought. Since then, she has produced a book of poetic meditations on the pandemic — When We Became Plants — and a collection of essays (Becoming Human). 

Covernton’s images, usually captured at eye level, invite nature to engage viewers on our own terms and are more than botanical studies. They are documentary images, chronicling a conversation between landscape and its inhabitants. 

Mount Elphinstone, whose name Covernton prefers not to use because of the nomenclature’s colonial history, is a frequent focus of her lens (most dramatically in the image titled Nameless Mountain).  

“I’ve just been sort of obsessed with that mountain up there,” she said. “Its presence feels like it’s a guardian and it’s something that we need to care for as well.” 

The Roberts Creek Community Library is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Here I Am / I Am Here will be available for viewing until mid-summer.