A young girl holds a small bouquet of flowers as she appears to be running toward someone, her clothing and hair catching the sunlight from behind her.
This is a scene in one of the paintings in Williams Lake artist Sarah Sigurdson’s first solo exhibit, Rearview Mirror, on until Saturday, June 24 in the upper level of the Station House Gallery.
“It’s grandma’s backyard,” she said during the opening of the exhibit Thursday, June 1. “My grandma died at Christmas so I came home and painted this right away.”
Faltering for a moment, she paused.
“I didn’t think I’d ever paint again, but I did.”
The painting, she added, is a relatable memory for anyone who played in her grandmother’s backyard in Kamloops, which has been sold and is no longer in the family. When asked if she liked to wear tutus when she was a child, like the girl in the painting, she smiled.
“I was a girly-girl. I liked to wear white gloves even.”
Another piece, Dock Days, depicts people jumping off a dock into a lake.
It represents her own love of being on a lake as a child, teenager and even now with her husband and children.
They go on Williams Lake, Canim Lake and Horsefly Lake in their boat all summer on the weekends.
She and her husband surf behind their boat, which can create a surf wave, but that’s not the inspiration for a painting titled Wave Ride or Die. In the painting three female surfers carry boards above their heads, walking along the shore with waves coming in.
“It’s about female friendship to me. The waves might get rough but, ‘let’s go,’ we are together in this.”
Most of the faces in the paintings are obscured inentionally because she wants people to see themselves in them or a person they might know.
Pointing to one of the pieces of a young woman, whose face is very clear, she said it is loosely based on her own experiences travelling in Europe in 2005 when she was 18 years of age.
“I don’t think it looks like me. It’s more about the feel and the vibe.”
A co-owner of Cariboo Art Beat in Williams Lake with Tiffany Jorgensen and Brittany Murphy, she has been part of group shows with them, but this show is really her first solo exhibit, she said.
At first she was nervous and felt vulnerable doing a solo show when she began working on most of the pieces in October.
“I started getting into painting just for me and the feel of it as opposed to what I think would sell or what people would like. It was a real turning point for me.”
During the show’s opening when it was her turn to speak to the guests, Sigurdson explained the meaning of her show title Rearview Mirror.
She recalled being four-years-old and visiting her grandfather, who was an artist and painted in watercolours.
“I would go into his art room and he would hide Snickers bars, the little ones. I would sit on his lap, we’d talk about art, and then I’d have to find a Snickers bar.”
Four or five years ago, with three small children of her own, she decided she needed some time for herself.
Jorgensen offered to look after her children and Sigurdson went and found her grandpa’s art case.
When she opened it up there was a Snickers Bar – although it was 20-something years old.
She did not eat it, but it got her thinking.
“Since then I’ve painted every day and it has turned into this magical, wonderful life, and incredible people. It’s these tiny moments in life, like the Snickers bar that as you look back in your rearview mirror that they suddenly are a bigger deal. At the time it was just fun with grandpa.”