Skip to content

New Hearth Gallery show peeks into island artists’ inspirations: Standing on the Shoulders

The Hearth's planning a different kind of exhibit in October – digging into what's inspired island artists
Standing on your shoulders
Carol McNaughton’s mock-up inspiration board showed the inspirations behind her “Dina Fabiola,” a woman with a red scarf covering her hair like in the famous Fabiola reproductions. The board includes sketches, printouts, photos, hand-written notes and more. Carol remembers her first art teacher when she was very young in the 1950s. “She was an immigrant to Canada...I only had about five lessons from her and then she moved away,” remembers Carol. “But she started me painting in oils.” Pictured: Carol McNaugton, Matilda Shapland, Liz Nankin and Jean Bradbury.

“Art doesn’t just spring out of nowhere,” muses Jean Bradbury, a Bowen artist and Hearth Visual Arts Committee member. So then, where does art come from? 

“If I hadn’t seen art, I wouldn’t even think to make it,” says Bradbury.

She shares a quote attributed to famed maritime painter Alex Colville: “There is a passage in Malraux’s ‘Psychology of Art’ in which he says that the initial impulse to be an artist comes not from the contemplation nature but from the contemplation of other art. ‘I too will be an artist.’ I agree completely with this.”

Where does Bowen’s art come from, then? An unconventional fall Hearth exhibit is going to dig into this question. The arts organization has issued a call out for any and all island artists interested in participating in “Standing on the Shoulders,” running Oct. 22 through Nov. 9 (the registration deadline is Sept. 7). 

The non-juried show open to islanders 16 and up will see artists select one of their works (either one they already have or one done for the show) and craft a five-foot-long inspiration board for the piece. 

The idea is, gallery goers will learn about the artists of Bowen “through why they make art and where inspiration comes from, rather than just looking at the art that they make,” explains Bradbury.

Artists will create the boards at the gallery – small groups will have non-public guided sessions where participants will delve into who taught, inspired and encouraged them; the inspiration for the piece; and sketches, plans, images and research information that led to the finished work. Both are then displayed to the public in the exhibit.  

“Whose shoulders are you standing on?” The show asks. 

“So often artists work alone. And yet we exchange ideas through our culture, through our humanity,” says Liz Nankin, another Visual Arts Committee member helping give form to the innovative show. “I think that’s the reason why we create art, because it’s a conversation.”

“Hopefully take away some of the secretiveness and the mystery about art creation or about being creative,” says Bradbury. “So people can understand that we all stand on the shoulders of other artists, other creative people.”

This exhibition is a means of welcoming people into the gallery space, for the Hearth’s summer employee, Matilda Shapland, who recently finished a fine art degree. “Instead of having that final beautiful exhibit…having this broken-down road of how they got there is so great,” she says. “Just giving everyone entry points into the artwork, rather than this final, beautiful, piece.”

Shapland sees two elements to the exhibition. First, for the artists, the art happening night (when the artists create the inspiration boards), “Just [to] be in such a collaborative space where another artist is asking you questions and you’re responding, you’re reflecting, then you’re making a visual process.” Second, the exhibition – “Inviting people into that process.” 

Any artists interested in participating are to register by Sept. 7. Find more details online.