A unique Station House gallery exhibition opening welcomed members and special guests recently to view the artwork of three generations of talented artists, but also of A.Y. Jackson and Joseph Plaskett — all of whom had ties to local ranches, including Onward Ranch.
The three generations of artists are Vivian Cowan, her daughters Dru Hodgson and Sonia Cornwall and granddaughter Devereux Hodgson.
Station House Gallery executive director Diane Toop said that she saw four paintings by A.Y. Jackson (member of the Group of Seven) when the owner brought them into the gallery a few years ago.
“Jackson painted at the Onward Ranch with Vivian and Sonia and they formed the Cariboo Arts Society in 1945,” she explained.
“I was so excited to see the paintings, and the owner wanted people to be able to enjoy them.”
Reluctant to have the Jackson paintings at the gallery for a month (the usual length of an exhibit) for security reasons, Toop began looking for a way to show them to members and invited guests at a gallery opening.
“I started thinking about it and thought how great it would be to show them with Vivian, Sonia, Dru and Devereux’s work,” she continued. “Both Sonia and Vivian were influenced by Jackson’s art and he encouraged them for many years. He loved this Cariboo countryside and you can see that in Sonia’s paintings.”
There were four A.Y. Jackson paintings at the gallery for opening night.
“The recent barbeque event was a nod to our Stampede and the fact that this isn’t just artwork we’re honouring, it’s Onward Ranch and the ranching history as well,” Toop added.
She said that the exhibit will be at the gallery for the summer.
“Upstairs we also have pieces by Joseph Plaskett, who was a well-known Canadian painter who was good friends with the artists whose work was shown at the exhibit,” she noted.
Artist Devereux Hodgson, whose art reflects her love of the natural world, said she didn’t start painting until she was in her thirties.
“I always loved art and design and had plans to become a designer, but when my grandmother passed away my Aunt Sonia sent me her paints — passing the torch,” she said.
“My family absolutely thought I would be an artist as a child and I rebelled: didn’t start until I was old enough to think about it.”
She said that when she started painting, part of it was instinctive and part learned.
“I had always been surrounded by art and had an eye for design; I struggled to learn to paint; it was hard work — you just have to do a lot of it to get better,” she added. “I got lots of encouragement from my family.”
Toop, who has been at the Station House Gallery for 20 years, said that this opening really stood out.
“It fulfilled every expectation I had, and when the night was over I was happy for our members, family and friends who came to see it,” she said.
“It was a great experience. People who weren’t at the opening and are coming in to see it now are astounded by this beautiful show.
“Our exhibit-hanging committee does a phenomenal job on all our shows, but we’re all taking particular pride in this one.”