Local artists have managed to find beauty at the scene of a recent Parksville disaster.
The Artward Bound plein air painting group each created their own artistic interpretation of what remains of several local business locations after a fire at the Parksville Heritage Centre last November.
“It was definitely a challenge,” said Melanie Barnes. “Normally we would do things like the seaside or a farm or a town scene or even flowers.”
Barnes said inspiration struck one day when she drove by the rubble with her husband, who suggested it could make a good location for the painting group.
The spot was very much out of the ordinary, but the painters felt it was important to document and find some beauty in the scene of devastation.
“It’s almost abstract, you’re looking at all these shapes and forms that are mangled or bent or twisted,” Barnes said. “And you’re trying to make something out of it, something interesting.”
Each person came away with a different interpretation. One artist focused on the building’s reflection in a large puddle of water, while Barnes found inspiration in a box of potatoes, which had not been burned.
She said she looked for the bright spots in what remained.
“A lot of people’s dreams went up in that. And so you’re kind of looking for stories. Things that tell a story,” she said, and recalled a pile of colourful, but melted and burnt, chairs. “They represented something that was very good.”
Barnes added artists can elevate reality by injecting colour, shape and imagination into a scene, “that is not maybe visually there, but becomes part of it because you’re injecting that part of your personality and part of your enthusiasm for the subject.”
While the group was painting the scene, quite a number of people came over, curious to ask what they were doing, including a man who used to work at the British Bobby and wanted to see what it looked like.
Artward Bound members visited the scene two Wednesdays in a row, with six or seven people present for the sessions. They hope to exhibit the paintings in the future.
The group paints year-round outside on Wednesdays, at locations from Nanaimo to Deep Bay to Port Alberni and everywhere in between. They are always looking for location suggestions.