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Painting and sculpting 'On the Edge of Beauty': now on at Bowen's Hearth Gallery

Vancouver-based painter Niina Chebry and part-time islander and sculptor Cathy Jenkins have different takes on a theme with an "edge"

In a theme turned this way and that – “On the Edge of Beauty” featuring sculptor Cathy Jenkins and painter Niina Chebry opens at Bowen Island's Hearth Gallery Sept. 1. 

From bears to otters

Cathy Jenkins grew up with stone dust all around her – her mother was a prospector and sculptor in Revelstoke. “She found some fabulous quarries of the most beautiful serpentine,” remembers Jenkins. The two were close and would go on to do exhibitions together when Jenkins’ mother moved to the coast in her later years. 

Jenkins likes to work big – the part-time islander’s done 10,000 pound pieces in stone – but has moved more into bronze casting in recent years to ease some of the physical work of sculpting. “I love it. I love the smell of the dust and the whole thing, but it’s hard on the body.” (But great for toning the arms for arm wrestling, chimes in Chebry.) 

Really well known for her big bears, Jenkins is featuring other creatures in this show – creatures she’s seen from her Fairweather property over the past five years, particularly river otters. 

“I’m just trying to portray the essence of beauty in line and form in sculpture,” says Jenkins. 

“When I work, because I’ve been at it for so long, I really have a deep understanding of my power tools,” she says. “I really know them – they’re just like an extension.” Paired with a deep understanding of her subjects, the creativity flows.  “When that happens, and the creativity is flowing through, I feel like I’m in exactly in the moment…I feel like I’m working on the edge of something.”

Beauty on a precipice

“I just love the double meaning,” says Niina Chebry, of the exhibition title. “In my work, I never want to be too literal. So, I’m always on the edge of abstraction.”

The Vancouver-based painter has had a studio at 1000 Parker for 21 years (though dreams of a summer studio on Bowen). It’s at the famous artist warehouse Chebry and Jenkins (who also has a studio there) became friends. (Jenkins describes Chebry as the “it girl” of that community.) 

Chebry tends to deeply explore nature-based themes in a series of paintings – for the past three years, it’s been icebergs. “Icebergs are beautiful – there’s an essence about them – but at the same time, there’s that edge because we know that we’re on the precipice.

“We know that they’re, we’re, in trouble.”

“It takes me a long while to delve into a subject matter,” says Chebry. “Something more than just a pretty picture on a wall.

“It has to have depth and I want people to see different things. If the person doesn’t see an iceberg right away, hooray!”

Also coming along to the Bowen exhibit is “Swayed” from Chebry’s tree series a few years ago and inspired by one of her hikes on Bowen Island. 


“On the Edge of Beauty” is at the Hearth from Sept. 1 through Sept. 27. The Artist pARTy is Sept. 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.