Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

May exhibition showcases artist Ian Thomas

By Kirsten Bolton

For ArtSpring

As its final offering of the 2023/24 season, ArtSpring is proud to present the work of well-known local artist Ian Thomas with a month-long two-part exhibition entitled “Ian Thomas: Past and Present” — a celebration of his 46 years as an active member of Salt Spring’s arts community. An opening reception is planned for Saturday, May 4 from 2 to 5 p.m.  

Curated by Margaret Day of The Point Gallery, and Stefanie Denz, the “Past” is a retrospective of key moments drawn from a lifetime of art-making on a grand scale through the mediums of painting, sculptural collage, and installations that capture a deep exploration of the human condition. The work exhibited is an opportunity for the public to see a collection of extraordinary works that have been in storage since 2019.  

“For nearly 20 years I exhibited the work of island artists that did not fit the criteria of the commercial galleries on the island,” said Day. 

“His was not work to go over your sofa; a lot of it was installation art and most of it was demanding. Ian’s work came as a fully developed series with a strong narrative arc and always generated a deep and genuine response, especially from the artists of the island.”  

The “Present” is a new series, Poets and their Poetry, in which Thomas pays tribute to 36 writers close to his heart, including six published poets from Salt Spring. These intimate water colour works combine textual fragments with portraiture.   

“As always, by unflinchingly addressing his own felt experience, he reminds us of our own collective memory and common humanity,” said Day.  

Selected work by authors in this series will be the driving narrative of an evening event of poetry with award-winning poet Murray Reiss as MC at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16.  

To provide visitors with some guidance and commentary, context to individual pieces, and Q&A opportunities, Thomas is also hosting two Sunday afternoon walkabouts at 2 p.m. May 12 and 19.  

As he approaches his 90th birthday, Thomas is reflective.  

“What the exhibition means to me,” said Thomas, “is that this is my final statement about my life and my work as an artist.” 

Thomas is remembered for his teaching at UBC and Camosun College and for his installations such as “Swallows Meadow” which toured B.C. from 1989 to 1995. An always respected juror, he acted alongside friend Gordon Smith for the BC Arts Council and was the Salt Spring representative on the first SSNAP jury in 2015.  

A portion of the sales from this work will go to the Island Fund for Ukraine, an initiative spearheaded by Victoria Olchowecki, which to date has raised over $100,000.

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