The Art of Loss

GPAG and the Hospice Society invited a number of local Sunshine Coast, BC artists to consider how experiences of grief and loss can inspire us to live more fully.

The Art of Loss

Loss is woven into the tapestry of our lives. The repeated experience of loss becomes a template for managing the loss of those we love and, ultimately, our own demise. GPAG and the Hospice Society invited a number of local artists to consider how experiences of grief and loss can inspire us to live more fully. These works in painting, sculpture, mixed media and videography will inspire reflection and discussion on this intimate, and frequently avoided, topic. A portion of the proceeds from art sales will benefit the work of both GPAG and the Hospice Society. The exhibition is curated by Paula O'Brien.

Contributing artists: Donna Balma, Paul Clancy, Pat Crucil, Liz De Beer, Jen Drysdale, Mary Lou Guest, Kristjana Gunnars, Gordon Halloran, Roger Handling, Jane Hennessy, Shain Jackson, RoseAnn Janzen, Trisha Joel, Carol La Fave, Kim La Fave, Ian MacLeod, Marilyn Marshall, Sheryl McDougald, Janice McFegan, Tim McLaughlin, Charly Mithrush, Paula O'Brien, Dionne Paul, Cindy Riach, Miyuki Shinkai, Donna Stewart, Robert Studer, Marleen & Dolf Vermeulen, Alanna Wood.

Art of Loss opens at GPAG

Rik Jespersen
Coast Reporter
October 19, 2018

The fall season is one of transition, the passing of a generation of growth. This autumn, we have The Art of Loss, an exhibition at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery exploring that theme with works from 30 accomplished local artists.

The idea for the show came from the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society, who approached GPAG’s manager Michael Aze, who in turn tapped local artist Paula O’Brien in early 2017 to curate the exhibition. For O’Brien, the task could not have come at a more appropriate, if challenging time.

“It was a month after my husband of 39 years passed away,” O’Brien said in an interview during the Oct. 13 opening reception for the exhibition. “I really jumped at the chance. It was a great place to put my energy, my passion and drive over that first year of my own loss.”

O’Brien has a mixed media artwork in the show, which depicts the time around her husband’s death from pulmonary fibrosis. Called Countdown to Goodbye, it features a painting, photographs and even parts of the oxygen tank and tubing that helped Dennis O’Brien breathe in his final days.

The shock of a family member’s death is even rawer for Roberts Creek-based artist Gordon Halloran, whose sister died on Oct. 12, the day the Art of Loss exhibition opened.

“I’d been preparing for this show and I got the information that she’d been in intensive care for most of the week,” Halloran said at the opening reception. “She passed yesterday.”

One of Halloran’s two pieces in the show happens to be a haunting and ethereal framed painting, built on a photo of his sister-in-law, which had been taken soon after the sudden death of her husband, Halloran’s brother.

The exhibition contains various media, including paintings and works in quilt, ceramics, glass, sculpture, video, and in the largest piece, a carved cedar coffin by shíshálh artist Shain Jackson.

Some works remind us that loss is suffered in ways less drastic than death, but no less tragic.

Janice McFeigen’s framed, mixed-media work, Colour My World, is a tribute to her husband, who is recovering from a stroke, and now lives with a lasting physical disability. “It’s about losing our previous way of life,” McFeigen said. “That loss is always there now.”

Roger Handling’s painting, The Sari Dress, shows a beautiful, barefoot woman in a pink gown standing tentatively by a pond. Added to the installation is her dress – or one much like it – on a wooden rack, and a pair of shoes.

Also featured in the show is Focus, a striking oil-on-board work by Marleen Vermeulen in collaboration with her photographer son, Dolf.

The Art of Loss runs until Nov. 4. A portion of sales proceeds will go to Sunshine Coast Hospice Society.