Potter Joan Beck (left)

Potter Joan Beck (left)

April gallery show a salute to railway culture

The April show in the Station House Gallery features the collective works of artists celebrating the heritage as a railway station.

The April show in the Station House Gallery features the collective works of artists celebrating the gallery’s heritage as a railway station.

Fittingly the show is called All Aboard.

Artists featured include illustrator Cathie Allen; photographers Lisa Anderson, Rick Magnell, and Jane Wellburn; clay sculptures by Joan Beck and Linda Sawyer; paintings by Coral Keehn, Al-Lisa Tresierra McKay, Gladys Wheatley, and Barb Fraleigh; wood etching by Keith Prestone; and graphite pieces by Leah Selk and Kathryn Steen.

In their biographies some of the artists talked about how railways inspired their creations.

Lisa Anderson said her first apartment in Williams Lake had a view of the Station House Gallery from the front window and a view of the Potato House from a rear window. Her photograph in the show is a view of the Station House from an upstairs window in the Potato House.

“I remember what it was like to look out my window and wait for my mom to step off the train to visit me,” Anderson says. “When I met Mary Forbes a couple of years ago at the Potato House she pointed out to me an upstairs window. She told me how the original owner of the house, Alcina Quintela, would look out this window to watch for her husband Manuel’s arrival home from the station.”

Joan Beck recalls enjoying train trips as a child from Penticton to Vancouver, Penticton to Trail, and as an adult across Canada from Kamloops to Halifax, riding trains in Europe and Asia, and in the 1970s taking the PGE passenger train from Williams Lake to Vancouver.

“Train travel is the most civilized means of travel …,” Beck says. “I really enjoy riding on trains and love this opportunity to combine trains and clay.”

Rich Magnell’s digital composite photograph in the show is called The Passenger, which he explains was created by combining two images.

“The background image was digitally shot by myself at the Burnaby Village Museum of a restored interurban tram built in 1912,” Magnell says. “The second image of the model is a commercially licensed stock image I purchased for this composite.”

Keith Prestone, a sculptor and painter has used a wood-burning technique to create his piece titled Etched in the Past, that reflects the railway’s importance to this region.

“Critics from the Lower Mainland said the PGE was the train that ran ‘from nowhere to nowhere’ but to the Cariboo, the railway was the economic lifeline,” Prestone said. “It did indeed ‘open up the country,’ bringing with it both people and prosperity — and the city of Williams Lake.”

Originally built in 1920, the Station House has been a focal point of Cariboo arts and culture since it was converted from a retired BCR train station in 1981, he said.

Jane Wellburn’s photograph is titled CN’s Unintentional Public Art.

She recalls memories of boarding the train at the Station House during the “glory days of Grade 4” as her class set out for the bright lights of Lac La Hache on a field trip, and now being a passionate supporter of the Station House as an art gallery.

“Lined with art – graffiti, abandoned steel from rails past, and, in our community, a station house converted to gallery, the rail is a strange amalgam of industry, history, and creativity,” Wellburn says. “The photos taken for this show are of objects that stand out to me when I think of the gallery and my memories and experiences of the space, both inside and out.”

Gladys Wheatley has two paintings in the show, Homeward Bound, and Tickets Please.

“This is a theme I can relate to because my grandfather was a water man on the railway that ran between Lowbush to Cochrane Ontario, and between Lowbush to Lasarre Quebec,” Wheatley says. “I can remember watching the train come in bellowing black plumes of smoke. It was very scary and exciting to a small child of about five or six. I remember that he lived at Lowbush and his house was about a two-hour ride out in the middle of nowhere, on a lake, and of course beside the train tracks.”