In the Station House’s Main Gallery this month art is found amidst discarded things, in the joint art exhibit Lost and Found.
Made up of the works of aunt-niece team Marilyn Dickson and Melanie Desjardines, the show is a study in found art and abstract pieces inspired by nature. Both women bring a unique spin to the concept of Lost and Found that is clearly felt throughout the gallery.
Dickson has lived rurally in the Cariboo for more than 40 years and worked as a nurse at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital for much of her professional career. Since retiring, Dickson said she’s loved gardening and painting in her spare time.
“I came to painting late in life, I certainly wasn’t doing it while I was younger at all. I just sort of gradually got into it through the Cariboo Art Society,” Dickson said.
Initially doing more work with fabric, Dickson eventually took a larger and larger interest in painting as she practiced and read books on the subject. It appealed to her as a way to “explore the psyche” and portray the real world not as it is but what it seems like inside to individuals. A recent holiday to Paris, where she dragged her husband around to various art galleries, really kicked off her desire to paint and create her part of Lost and Found, most of which is abstract.
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“(Abstract) it could have been intimidating but for some reason, it wasn’t. You’re really just, basically, going deep and trying to get rid of any material things and deal with what’s really going on,” Dickson said.
As piece after piece came together, Dickson’s niece Desjardines, herself an artist and former gallery owner, reached out to her about doing a show together. Dickson told her she already had a theme and title, Lost and Found, and that she’d have to approach the theme in her own way.
For Dickson, her primary source of inspiration for Lost and Found is the 2017 Wildfire Season, which she joked will make this the last show she does related to them. Fire and its effects have been incorporated into several of her abstract works which Dickson knows all too well as, while her home was saved, the entire area surrounding it was burned. Every time she looks out a window at home she’s reminded of what was lost so putting together this show has been very therapeutic for her.
Overall, for her first serious foray in abstract expressionism, Dickson is quite pleased with how her pieces and the overall show came together. She hopes that the lakecity gives abstract art a serious chance as, while it may look at times like the scribbling of someone who does not know what they’re doing, there is deep meaning behind each piece the viewer must find for themselves.
Desjardines, meanwhile, approached the show very differently in terms of both themes and chosen medium. She got back into art seriously around 15 years ago with watercolours but has since turned to a more unique form of found art.
Along with her husband, Desjardines own a sheet metal business up in Prince George and she’s come to notice there are some “pretty funky results” that end up coming out of the metal making process. She began picking up unique, warped or interesting looking pieces of discarded metal to use in her art, even painting on some though none of these pieces are in the Station House this month.
About half the pieces in Lost and Found come from a previous show called the Pathos of Things and are primarily made up of rusted metals and other found objects while seven were created especially for this show. Initially, she said they intended to combine their works but it became very clear her aunt was on a more spiritual journey with her art while Desjardines was going for a more literal found art series.
“The original pathos (of this) series was kind of that wabi-sabi aesthetic, that Japanese aesthetic of where there is imperfection there is beauty. I think just finding found objects that have suffered from abuse and use and all the patina that is created it really what blows my hair back,” Desjardines said. “Turning an unused object into something that can be considered beautiful as in art. I just have a lot of fun doing that, giving new life to old objects.”
Art to her is a lifelong passion and she’s honoured to be sharing the Station House Main Gallery with her aunt this month.