Artist showcases Haida Gwaii at Canada Winter Games

  • Jan. 17, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Judy Hilgemann will be heading to the 2015 Canada Winter Games next month, but her journey from Campbell River isn’t just for sport. Her artwork, which depicts the nature and culture of Haida Gwaii, will be featured in an exhibition called North, as part of the games in Prince George.”I’m really thrilled. This is the first time I’ve ever been accepted into a public gallery. Just getting in is a really big deal for me and a really great opportunity,” said Ms. Hilgemann, who lived on Haida Gwaii for 15 years before moving to Vancouver Island in 2012.North is an exhibition at the Two Rivers Gallery and is sponsored by the games, said curator George Harris.”The exhibition, North, will provide the ideal platform for artists to delve into their understanding of the notion of “north” while engaging with these pillars of common interest – youth, sport, community and culture,” said the gallery’s call for submissions.Ms. Hilgemann’s pieces will accompany the work of 18 other artists from across the province, and she said she and her youngest daughter can’t wait to see the show and catch some of the sport action.Her artwork “really caught the eye” of the curatorial selection group, said Mr. Harris. Selected were a watercolour painting of the 2013 Legacy Pole raising and an encaustic painting of a winter’s day at Spirit Lake in Skidegate.”I’m most excited they accepted my painting of the Legacy Pole raising. It was such an important event for the northwest coast, Haida Gwaii, and everyone up there,” Ms. Hilgemann said. “It was such a big cultural event and a really positive example of what’s going on on the northwest coast. It’s the sort of thing the rest of B.C. and Canada needs to hear about.”She created this piece of artwork in real time, sitting on the beach and painting the people and the pole while it was happening.”I didn’t know quite where to look and what to capture, but I tried to look at it as a whole event” she said. “I wished I could be in six places at once.”Her other piece to be accepted, an encaustic of Spirit Lake, was a surprise. The winter landscape scene of the icy lake was more obscure than her watercolour, she said, but it fit the bill of wintery and northern.She learned the technique of encaustic painting during a workshop on Haida Gwaii years ago, she said. It involves combining hot beeswax with oil paints, and creating an image by shaping it before it cools.She said she is pleased to have both pieces of Haida Gwaii accepted into the show. Having her work displayed at a public gallery is a huge accomplishment for Ms. Hilgemann, she said, as it’s an important stepping stone for an artist.The exhibition will run at the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George from Feb. 12 to April 26.

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