Quesnel Art Gallery showcases two local artists

Harker and Ashcroft pay homage to the Cariboo’s magnificent trees


Observer Reporter

For Joan Ramsey Harker, bigger canvases are better. However her fellow artist and show companion Anna Ashcroft has been enjoying smaller and smaller sculptures. Regardless, in their show ‘Leaves in the Wind’, size doesn’t matter.

“When Joan suggested I needed a larger centerpiece for the show I immediately got on the phone to my rock supplier and ordered a 78-pound piece of soapstone,” Ashcroft said.

Without a clear subject in mind, she began carving away pieces and as the form emerged, she called the piece Gratitude. As she worked on the form, Ashcroft created the hands in the namaste position and the voluptuous figure was kneeling.

“I carved this figure during the worst of the wildfires and I kept thinking about what we have to be grateful for – thus the title Gratitude,” she said.

Joan’s work is a ode to trees in all their variations and splendour.

“Here in the Cariboo we all live very close to the forests, closer than most,” she said.

Joan added she is thoroughly connected to the Cariboo and her work reflects the trees that grow in this area.

“Trees have always played a role in my life; however, in the last year they have taken over my mind and my paintings,” she said.

In several of her large canvases, Joan has incorporated torn paper for the trunks of the trees, representing one of the many products we derive from these forest dwellers.

“More and more research has revealed the life of trees may be more complex than our own. Living at a slower place than we do, their lives may extend much longer and their influence has much more importance to the planet than our own,” she said.

The Quesnel Art Gallery is a wonderful showcase of local and regional artistic talent. Each month features a different artist, group of artists, or artistic endeavour and the public is missing a wonderful opportunity if they fail to drop by the Arts and Recreation Centre and take a tour of the latest show in the Quesnel Art Gallery.

Joan’s large, colourful canvases wrap the wall like a temporary mural, each panel a different depiction of trees. Find the ladies hidden in the trees and admire the message each canvas carries.

“This show also allowed me to explore leaves. Most of my trees before this didn’t have leaves,” she said.

Anna’s sculptures have pride of place in the centre of the room. Each statue is a figure of a woman with a different message and title, designed to be provocative and thought inspiring. Distant cousins to the ancient Hearth Goddess, these pieces are personal statements reflecting on attitudes and intentions.

As Anna explores a different subject, each piece she creates becomes a meditation on that subject. Each piece is very textural. Be sure the take the time to let your eyes travel down the diminutive totem and lightly appreciate the feel of the alabaster.

Both artists feel they have been irrevocably touched by the summer of the wildfires.

“When I started the series, I could not have dreamed that in the summer of 2017 our forests would be burning all around us. British Columbia may never be the same. I believe we are all in mourning for our forests, for every single tree lost to the flames,” Joan said.

Leaves in the Wind runs until Sept. 30 and the show is sponsored by Forsythia Holdings Inc. The Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.