Sheila Symington has been named one of Surrey’s 2011 Civic Treasures.

Artists open doors to public for tour

Civic Treasure among event participants

One of the Semiahmoo Peninsula arts community’s undoubted success stories returns again this weekend (Oct. 15 and 16).

The White Rock Artists Studio Tour is back for its 18th year, offering art lovers and browsers a chance to see recent work in the studios in which it originated, and meet the artists face-to-face – and even, in some cases, see demonstrations of techniques and works in progress.

The chain of free open houses – which also includes studios in South Surrey – is a friendly opportunity to gain insight into the artistic process, discover works that resonate on the all-important personal level, and maybe even latch onto a bargain or two along the way.

This year, 13 artists are featured in the network of open houses, including veteran artist Sheila Symington – who has just been accorded the honour of  Surrey’s 2011 Civic Treasures award, which recognizes people who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts and culture in the city.

News of the award, which will be formally presented Nov. 9 at Surrey Arts Centre, came right out of the blue, Symington said.

“I think it partly recognizes the work I did with the White Rock Summer School of the Arts (which Symington ran under the auspices of the White Rock and South Surrey Art Society for 16 years),” she said.

“And also working with the society when it first started out — I wasn’t the first president, but I was pretty close.”

Symington, who has been painting full time for more than 35 years, has continued to change and evolve as an artist – and while she still paints some more traditional floral studies, her greatest delight is her abstract and semi-abstract paintings, collages and mixed-media works.

“I dabble with a little bit of this and that,” is the way she puts it, with typical understatement. “Whatever keeps my interest.”

The mixed-media works – she’s been doing them for 25 years now – feature arresting combinations of colour and texture.

Much of the incorporated elements are paper, which she stains herself, and other found objects, such as coins and stamps.

The abstracts are her favourite, she admits.

“It’s because you don’t have anything in front of you,” she said. “You have to use your imagination and let the work talk to you, and tell you what you need.”

Symington said she usually sees around 75 people during the course of the two days of the studio tour.

“I get lots of feedback,” she said.

This year’s visitors will most likely see works from her latest series, which feature inks and washes, and are painted with a stick rather than a brush.

“It gives a different effect altogether – more lines instead of thick brushwork,” she said.

Also featured in this year’s tour will be sculpture and paintings by Joan Miriam Adams; watercolours and acrylic paintings by Nicoletta Baumeister; sculpture and jewelry by June Bloye; stone sculpture by Simon Cantin; watercolours and acrylic paintings by Carolynn Doan; pottery mosaics and public art by Connie Glover; acrylics, drawings and murals by Elizabeth Hollick; acrylics, drawings and murals by Judy Jordison; oil paintings and drawings by Kathy Macdonald; pottery by Arlene McGowan; watercolours by Jess Rice; and, oil paintings by Ann Worth.

For a map and complete list of addresses for the studio tour, visit www.whiterockstudiotour.com

 

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