People come to the gallery for many different reasons. Some stumble on us, and are amazed and incredulous to find a gallery of any kind - especially one with our range of art of such high quality - in such a small town! Some have made us their destination for some time, and come back often. Others are just passing through, and have heard about us as a good place to stop. For some it's books. For others its the pottery. Paintings are the only thing for some.
For me, it's a joy to be a part of this stream of humanity. Being at the convergence point where art lover meets art is my great privilege! And then there are the stories that touch me, and that I want to share with you. Some of our precious visitors touch our hearts in unique and transformative ways.
Just last week we have had two such visits. (I have permission from the individuals to share these photos and stories.)
First, Stuart Williamson and his daughter, Ruth, stopped in en route from the Leighton Art Centre to visiting family in Dewinton, AB. This was a trip to Alberta for father and daughter to revisit Stuart's roots - he was born and raised in Calgary, but has lived away for most of his adult life. Engaging with Stuart I quickly learned that he had a great love of art, and had studied with A.C. Leighton (he thinks he's probably one of the last persons living who can say that). It was hard to believe that Stuart was 97 years old - he's still painting even though he's had to switch from watercolours to acrylic to allow for his shifting ability to focus on fine detail. He was also full of extremely entertaining stories! He made me laugh so many times. One story he told involved Stan Perrot and being in the life drawing classes the year the art school allowed (for the first time) female models in the life drawing class (nudes!). And what Stuart had to explain to Stan the morning after that first class which Stuart was not able to attend. I could have talked with him all day. He went through the whole gallery, with sincere and eager interest, and was especially drawn to the works of Steve Coffey and Maryanne Jespersen. He felt they really captured, in their different ways, the essence of the landscapes portrayed. He spent a long time studying their style, and admiring their brushstrokes!
Then on Saturday (when the sun was shining warmly) we met Carmel Gatt, and his wife Jane and friend Bernadette. Carmel is living with brain cancer, and his journey has been one of many challenges but his focus has been on hope. He loves the gallery for the beauty and inspiration it gives him. This was one of the first outings he had been able to make for some time, and they were planning a picnic down the road (it was that kind of a day!). However, things became difficult for Carmel, and so we invited them to set up their picnic on our front step! They had their own umbrella for shade, and chairs and tea service... and so they enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the people coming and going. Carmel spoke about his journey as an architect (a career he has had to give up), and his continued interest in sharing his ideas about designing the spaces we inhabit to support our health as human beings. He is not fond of the "boxes" that we live in. He also has a love of painting, and having grown up on the isle of Malta, he is very familiar with a style of art that is very realistic. He struggles to be inspired by abstract art, but he was drawn to the works in the gallery by Tyrrell Clarke. We spoke about the way some artists tune into the feeling of trees, like Joan Mitchell. All in all, we were inspired by each other's journeys. A reminder to us all to appreciate our lives and to live them well, as best we can. I believe in talking about what is actually going on, and not being afraid to talk about death or grief. On our book shelf are a couple resources that I think can help with that. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande is one book that I think we should all read! And Tear Soup is a resource for anyone (all ages) going through a great loss of any kind.
- with love,
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