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At the Galleries: Enjoy Canada’s wilderness through the eyes of painters, carvers, jewellers

Victoria galleries host a refreshing display of wilderness works this summer with rare paintings from the Group of Seven, carvings fresh from the northern territories, European-inspired gemstone jewelry and fine brushwork of the Canadian outdoors.

Victoria galleries host a refreshing display of wilderness works this summer with rare paintings from the Group of Seven, carvings fresh from the northern territories, European-inspired gemstone jewelry and fine brushwork of the Canadian outdoors.

For the final week of its 13th annual Colours of Summer exhibition, Madrona Gallery features paintings by B.C.’s E.J. Hughes and the Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael and J.E.H. MacDonald. In lieu of being unavailable online, these rare historic works can be viewed in person at the gallery.

“Many of these works have not been available to view for many years, so it is a real privilege to have them all here in one place,” gallery director Michael Warren said.

Madrona is also pleased to feature a selection of new works from around the Arctic for its exhibition, which ends Aug. 10.

For more than a decade, the gallery has promoted artists from around Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Currently on display is a selection of works by leading contemporary carvers like Daniel Shimout, Charlie Siviakjuk Jr., Kupapik Ningeocheak and Billy Merkosak. Further highlights include works by internationally established carvers Palaya Qiatsuw and Simonie Killiktee, who continue to influence newer generations of carvers.

Visit Madrona Gallery at 606 View St. or

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Over in Oak Bay, the Avenue Gallery spotlights artist Yared Nigussu’s natural language: painting. After moving to Canada in 2009, Nigussu was inspired by the energy, light and urban perspective in his new home of Vancouver. He won Art Battle Canada’s live competition three years in a row (2012-14) and has also received a SAGE (Social Acceptance of Great Excellence) award and the Bikila Award for professional excellence.

Intuitive and powerful, Nigussu’s brush strokes communicate a symbolic vocabulary that visually translates a depth of emotion. Known for his painted urban landscapes, Nigussu puts his optimistic and thoughtful energy directly into his work. He also fuses undisguised brushstrokes with mixed media, rendered in a bright and opulent palette, to convey a narrative with his provocative paintings that’s much deeper than the mere appearance of the subject.

Also showcased at the gallery, painter Eunmi Conacher aims to connect people with her interpretive works after years of fine art study and globe-trotting through Korea, Australia and Japan. Now calling Vancouver Island home, Conacher previously became an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) in 2008, was elected to the Society of Canadian Artists in 2013 and received her associate FCA designation in 2015.

“I describe myself as a contemporary impressionist and expressionist artist,” Conacher said. “My desire is to create paintings which bring energy to the canvas. My work is more an expression of the mood in the scene rather than a realistic picture of the scene. I use depth of colour to balance realism and abstract. My use of colour, form, and texture is intuitive. My hope is that the viewers connect emotionally with the painting in their own way. The result I strive for is a painting from the heart.”

The gallery additionally puts Bayot Heer’s elegant and timeless jewelry on display, bringing attention to his designs that come imbued with a European sensibility. Heer considers working with precious metals and gemstones a rare privilege that carries a responsibility to honour these materials with lasting designs. In his work as a jeweller, he strives to live up to a quote by 20th-century Danish poet Piet Hein: “True design asks one thing of us: To uncover what it covers.”

Check out the Avenue Gallery at 2184 Oak Bay Ave. or

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Back downtown, the West End Gallery welcomes painter Ryan Sobkovich. Originally from Wasaga Beach, Ont., Sobkovich was born in 1995 and became an accomplished artist from a young age, starting to paint at nine and exhibiting and selling his works in a local gallery at 16. He went on to graduate from Georgian College’s School of Design and Visual Arts in 2016, with honours in its advanced fine art program.

Sobkovich’s love for nature inspires him to paint Canadian wilderness scenes while hiking, camping and kayaking around the Great Lakes and other areas across the country. He utilizes dynamic, impasto brushwork and layered complementary colours to convey emotions, feelings and thoughts while on site in the wild and particularly enjoys painting “en plein air” and in large scale. Private, corporate and public collectors have acquired his works both nationally and internationally.

Find the West End Gallery at 1203 Broad St. or


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