It’s the 40th-annual Arnold Mikelson Festival of the Arts – but a first for up-and-coming South African-born artist Ashley Jackson.
The festival, which returns to the Mind and Matter Gallery for two weekends this month (July 13-14, 20-21), will be the first public exhibition of the ornate and surreal acrylic and multimedia pieces of Jackson, 25.
Born in Pretoria, she emigrated to Canada with her family at the age of 12 in 2001.
Self-taught in art until the age of 18, she found her direction focused by taking a portfolio course at White Rock’s Neighbourhood Art Studios.
“There I continued to explore my creativity with various mediums and gained the necessary tools to enhance my artistic talent,” she says in her artist’s biography.
“What was supposed to be a one-year course soon developed into a six-year journey filled with volunteering, freelance and teaching opportunities.”
Jackson’s striking style combines jewel-like tones with layers of acrylic and multi-media elements and dense, dreamlike imagery evocative of ancient mythology.
“My inspiration is derived from nature, people, emotions and a divine energy source,” she says.
“Through dreams and a vivid imagination, I am able to create images in vibrant colours and fine detail using unique applications of acrylics and multi-media.
“Since most of what I create comes from my dreams, my work would fall into the category of spiritual surrealism.”
The Arnold Mikelson Festival, named for the late sculptor, who first opened his South Surrey gallery to the public 47 years ago, has grown significantly since the first edition, in 1973.
That featured a total of 10 artists who painted in watercolours and oils, but as festival founder Mary Mikelson noted, the public’s growing interest in all art media led to the inclusion of jewelry, glass blowing, pottery, weaving metal art, stone sculpture and stained glass.
This year the work of more than 100 artists will be featured in the three acres of gardens surrounding the gallery, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Opening ceremony will be July 13 at 1:30 p.m. with Rick Forchuk as master of ceremonies.
The gallery grounds can be accessed from either 13743 16 Ave. or 13743 17 Ave., and there is free parking at Ray Shepherd Elementary, just to the west of the gallery on 16 Avenue.
For more information, visit www.mindandmatterart.com or call 604-536-6460.