Left: Sharon with her piece

Left: Sharon with her piece

On the Wild Side: New exhibit at the Studio Connexion Gallery

Living in rural B.C. grants us ample opportunity to observe the wild world at large.

  • Aug. 20, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Angus Schroff

Arrow Lakes News

Living in rural B.C. grants us ample opportunity to observe the wild world at large be it a bear catching salmon, a moose charging through the forest, or an otter paying with her pups, our backyards are home to some of the most amazing creatures that nature has to offer.

Sharon Bamber’s art, currently on exhibit at the Studio Connexion Gallery until August 30, is of an equally amazing calibre. Done with pastels on masonite board, her paintings of local wildlife and scenery bring the Kootenays to life with a unique flair. From a distance, they appear to be works of pure — and superb — realism; a photograph rendered in pigment instead of printer ink. Look closer, though, and bits of colour — of impressionistic flair — leap out. “Realism to a point,” as it’s described on her website. This makes the subjects seem in motion and active but not out of focus or abstract. Sharon paints not just what she sees, but what she feels when she sees it.

Sharon’s passion for nature began at an early age. Her parents took her for walks in the forest near their home in Great Britain, pointing out local flora and fauna as they went. Fast-forward to 1989, and Sharon graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology from the University College of Swansea. Later, she began a career in landscape architecture. Still, she felt that something was missing.

That something was art. Above anything else, Sharon finds that art helps her externalize her passion for nature. As for why she uses pastels almost exclusively, Sharon says, “With oils or acrylics, there’s the paintbrush, the mixing board — there was always something between me and the scene. With pastels, you mix on the canvas. It’s the immediacy I love. It allows me to transmit my emotion to the piece with nothing in between.”

Emotion is a central theme of Sharon’s work. Every piece brings back memories of the events that inspired it, but one in particular stands out for her.

“The swan has a lot of significance to me. It reminds me of time as a child, watching the River Thames with my grandmother.

The memories associated with it are very important to me, so it’s one of my favourites,” she says.

Still, she says it’s impossible for her to pick a favourite piece.

“My favourite is whatever one I’m working on at the time,” she laughs. “I wake up itching to get to my latest project. I have to pry myself away just to eat.”

The results of that dedication can be seen as clearly as the water of Kootenay Lake on a summer’s day. Sharon’s work has won multiple awards, and been on display around the world — even next to the work of legendary wildlife painter and personal inspiration Robert Bateman. Sharon herself is an Associate Signature Member of the Federation for Canadian Artists, an Associate Member of the Society of Animal Artists, and a member of the Pastel Artists of Canada.

 

Sharon’s work will be on display at the Studio Connexion Gallery from 11 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, as well as Sunday, Aug. 30. The gallery is located on 5th Avenue Northwest, house 203. Appointments can be made at 250-265-3586. Sharon’s work can be found at www.sharonbamber.com.