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Art Committee flexing artistic muscles

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Diane Nelles hangs a new art display in preparation for the next art show at Victoria Hall, Committee Creations. Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network

Diane Nelles hangs a new art display in preparation for the next art show at Victoria Hall, Committee Creations. Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network

A diverse collection of art is now on display at Victoria Hall, but this time the artists behind the creations also happen to be those who put together the monthly art shows.

Works by 14 artists will line the walls of the council chambers until the end of July. Diane Nelles, Liz Welsh, Karen Campbell, Sylvia Fairbank, Laurissa Ellsworth, Ariel Lyons, Karen Whiting, Anna May Aldous, Kathy King, Lynn Bidner, Carol Drope and two different Linda Smiths have contributed to the show entitled ‘Committee Creations’.

Chair Linda Smith said their committee blossomed from a love and appreciation of art – they knew there were people interested in art and having some beautiful pictures on the walls.

“We just put artwork up during the shows that were on during the summer time…and the idea was local talent with a venue to show it,” she said.

Since their inception well over a decade ago, they’ve expanded to have art on display all year round, including pieces by local elementary and high school students.

“It grew, as the theatre grew our art displays grew,” Smith said.

Committee member Diane Nelles said it’s grown so much they now have a wait list for artists hoping to have their work go up in Victoria Hall. She said they have stuck with a Lambton County connection, bringing in artists that may not necessarily live in the area, but were born or grew up nearby.

Smith said this year is the first time the committee members have had a show. She said while some of the members don’t consider themselves artists, it was a way of unearthing hidden talents and recognizing that everyone has some sort of artistic bone in their body, even if they don’t realize it.

“At first I said no, I’m not…then I thought, well, I can take a picture,” Smith said. “That’s what it’s about, everybody has creativity somewhere.”

“Everybody has a creative talent,” Nelles added. “It could be dressmaking, photography…and if they haven’t, they found one!”

While there are members who have been more heavily involved in creating their own pieces, all of them have one thing in common – an appreciation of art. Some have recently began taking classes and some began after retirement.

“It’s a mixture, we have some very professional artists,” Smith said. “We always want to have a blend.”

Karen Campbell said she first began her foray into painting after she retired. She uses watercolours to paint large scale florals and rocks, and had her first show with Nelles at Victoria Hall when the committee first formed.

“Florals and rocks both have wonderful colours and shapes…it makes you look at the world differently,” she said.  

Campbell has had her work displayed at Gallery in the Grove and Paint Ontario. She started taking classes and even went to Haliburton for a number of years to perfect her artistic skill, which led her to teaching art classes. She was one of the original members of the six-plus-one art group.

Nelles said she began in 2003 after wanting to put something on her walls. She hadn’t done any art since high school but always had a passion for it, and soon she joined Campbell’s’ art group.

“Watercolour is my favourite…but last year I picked up acrylics,” she said. “It’s very freeing – I do my acrylic free hand, that’s how I differentiate the two…when I do my watercolour I like lots of detail.”

Nelles said each medium represents a different side of her, allowing her to delve into a new part of herself. Her watercolours reflect a style of realism while in her acrylic works she’s more contemporary.

“I’m trying to break that mold, add a little abstract in,” she said. “Nature inspires me, I love gardening, hiking and camping.”

Nelles said the variety of their show is what she loves about it; placing the pictures on the walls, they create a flow of colours despite so many artists being involved in the display.

“It’s different and unique, different styles, different techniques,” she said. “Tying them together is the fun part.”

The official opening and meeting with artists will be held Saturday July 8 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.