Pat Palmer never encountered an arbutus before moving to Nanoose Bay 10 years ago and now she’s drawing inspiration from the tree in her latest exhibition.
For the month of February, Palmer presents Arbutus Deconstructed at Art 10 Gallery. As the title suggests, each painting in the show focuses on a different feature of the arbutus tree: the twisting of the branches and trunk, the arrangement of the leaves and the canopy, the flowers and fruit, the texture of bark and its colourful peelings.
“In our gallery you can see that several of our artists have painted the arbutus…” Palmer said. “I think for a lot of West Coast artists this is really a very unique feature of the place that we live in, so that’s something that I really wanted to capture.”
Included in the show is a book of arbutus reference photos Palmer took at different times of year in Nanoose, Parksville and Nanaimo. Some photos were taken at the “arbutus meadow” at the top of the hill behind her home.
“Hardly anybody walks there and there’s just some really beautiful forms of the tree up there and a lot of them too, which is nice,” she said.
While she’s painted the arbutus in some of her more representational landscape work, Palmer said that style made it difficult to include all the features of the tree in one painting. That led her towards a more abstract approach, a style she was drawn to by the freedom it provides.
“I think when you’re tied to something that’s real then you’re tied to a certain range of colours, you’re tied to the physics of the whole thing,” Palmer said. “Whereas in abstract you can just do exactly what you’re feeling inside.”
WHAT’S ON … Arbutus Deconstructed is on display at Art 10 Gallery, Nanaimo North Town Centre, until Feb. 28.