Illustrators’ private worlds captured for exhibit

Photographer’s images paired with artworks for showing at Cedar Hill Rec Centre’s gallery café

Artist Frank Lewis poses in front of an aboriginal mural he painted on the concrete surface of an underpass where the Galloping Goose trail goes underneath Gorge Road. Lewis is a member of the Island Illustrators’ Society

Among illustrators, there’s a sense of community.

It stems from the isolationist nature of their work, said illustrator Barbara Weaver-Bosson, but also from the fact their work often serves as a complement to a story. Often, illustrators’ work isn’t shown in galleries, rather it appears in children’s books or other texts.

“Generally an illustration is used (for a purpose) where you’re using it to match a thematic bit with a story,” Weaver-Bosson said.

“That could be in the way of editorial or a children’s story. It supports the text or even enhances the text or manuscript. You don’t always have to be literal when you’re an illustrator, but you’re always an artist first.”

Twenty-five years ago, a group of local artists formed the Island Illustrators’ Society, meeting monthly at the former North Park Gallery.

“We all spoke the same language, even though some of us were designers, some were photogs,” Weaver-Bosson said.

“We were wanting to communicate with the public how our group can be useful in the community, and help with business and support and mentor each other. We all became hugely connected and good friends.”

To celebrate the group’s silver anniversary, members are showing a selection of their works, called Celebrate Success: 25 Years of the Island Illustrators’ Society, at Cedar Hill Recreation Centre’s gallery café.

The illustrators’ works are paired with self-written narratives about their work and photographs by local photographer Raymond St. Arnaud, who shot each artist in his or her studio.

“One of the things I tried to do was, if the artist had a space, I tried to show what they see outdoors, or if they were daydreaming,” St. Arnaud said.

“I didn’t do that all the time, but I’m trying to show the space or the environment that the artist is in.”

He used a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the works space as possible.

“I try to let them be themselves as much as possible,” he said of the illustrators. “I usually do not give them a lot of guidance. I show up and see what they do, where they work and how things are placed. Eventually, they seem to settle themselves into kind of a natural, comfortable place.”

In all, St. Arnaud photographed 68 local illustrators. Each of those photos is in a new book he’s launching in conjunction with the exhibit called The Island Illustrators’ Society … 25th anniversary … 68 studio visits.

Illustrator Sandy Terry said the pictures are like “a window into the creators’ world.”

“The reason I love it is (because) where an artist creates is a very special place. It’s like your sanctuary where you’re making something that hasn’t existed before. To have that space and have it photographed – I love that (St. Arnaud) is taking you into that private world.”

For more on the society, visit www.islandillustrators.org.

ecardone@vicnews.com

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