During this spring’s Hammond Bay Studio Tour, Nanaimo artist Michael Tickner was reunited with a painting of his he hadn’t seen in 31 years.
In 1988 Saltair resident Rob Tukham was in Vancouver for work when he decided to clear his head with a walk through Stanley Park. Near the entrance of the park a number of artists were exhibiting their work on the lawn.
Tukham saw many pieces he liked, but it was Tickner’s painting of the Vancouver Rowing Club that really caught his attention.
“I get to Michael’s and I see this work that just for some reason just really, really struck me,” Tukham said. “There were a couple paintings there … and I would have loved to have had both but I could barely afford one. And without telling my wife, I just went ahead and bought it.”
The painting is an early example of Tickner’s shift to what’s referred to as contemporary primitive art, “which is a bit of an oxymoron as far as I’m concerned,” Tickner said. It’s a style in which he continues to work.
“When I started this new style 32 years ago I took it back down to Stanley Park just to test drive it, basically, and [Tukham] was one of the first people to buy my larger pieces,” Tickner said.
He added that he sold the painting framed for $275, and after three decades the art work is now valued for insurance purposes at $9,000.
Tickner moved from the Lower Mainland to Nanaimo in 2015 and when Tukham heard that he was one of the artists taking part in this year’s Hammond Bay Studio Tour, he put the painting in the trunk of his car and drove to Tickner’s studio.
When he got there he asked Tickner if artists like seeing their old work.
“I said, ‘Well, if I’ve let the work go from my studio, then, sure, I’m happy with it. So I don’t mind seeing it back again,’” Tickner said.
After seeing his old painting, Tickner said, “It was like seeing one of your children, only the thing is, with paintings, they don’t get older; they stay the same age.”
Tukham said he keeps the painting in a prominent place in his home and he’s lucky to own a piece of art that he wouldn’t be able to afford today.
“The thing about Michael’s work is that he had made a change in his art work at the time … so the painting that I have is the beginning of the art that he still does, whereas some other artists I have their early work and what they do now is quite different,” Tukham said. “I have the beginning of what he became well known for.”