Juxtaposition of barren landscapes to commercialized natural spaces in March art show

Helena Wadsley brings vivid paintings to Harrison art gallery

Helena Wadsley

Vancouver artist Helena Wadsley is this month’s featured artist at the Ranger Station Art Gallery. She has brought a series of paintings that span about four or five years.

“My idea was to juxtapose sites that exploit natural geography but destroy it, places like sea ports and highway overpasses, next to more barren landscapes where there is just one sign of human presence in the vastness of the land, a tiny shack or an abandoned vehicle,” explains Wadsley.

She found the subjects for her paintings as far-reaching places as Barcelona, Iceland, Scotland and within Vancouver.

“In my latest three paintings, Caught Out 1, 2 and 3, I started incorporating a human figure into the work as I direct my investigation into how humans interact with nature,” describes Wadsley. “Nature is always a negotiated or compromised place. If we can reach a place, no matter how isolated it seems, we aren’t the first to do so.”

She cites early Canadian painters, who wanted to depict a victory over nature. But in this day and age, when we’ve finally come to realize nature in its “purest state” is a necessary and good thing, it’s almost too late.

“To appreciate nature, we are asked to please stay on the trail.”

This is Wadsley’s first time bringing a show to Harrison. She feels it’s a perfect venue because fo teh naturally beatuiful location. And it doesn’t have a “tangle” of highways or busy ports – “a good thing” – she remarks.

Wadsley has always been interested in art. In fact, she can’t imagine her life without it. She studied at Concordia University, Emily Carr and the University of Saskatchewan. She teaches full-time at Langara College in Vancouver now. Two years ago, she founded an artist residency in Italy that she runs in the summers.

“It has been an incredible experience, creating a temporary international art community in a small town in southern Italy,” shares Wadesley. “The local community has been very welcoming, and the participating artists have been inspirational.”

Come to the gallery to see Wadsley’s exhibit, on now through March 29. Be sure to look for her painting ‘Left Behind’, one of her favourites because of the memories of the experience. She says that piece came out of a trip with her son in Iceland. They were walking and came across a car in a “most unlikely” place.

“But when we started to look around, there were signs that this had once been a road but nature had reclaimed it.”

Wadsley’s exhibit runs through March at the Ranger Station Art Gallery, on Rockwell Drive in Harrison Hot Springs. Gallery hours are Mondays to Fridays, 10-4 p.m. and weekends 1-5 p.m.