Jeannette Sirois: “The Stillness of Life”

Opening Reception: Friday August 25th and is presented by Artcraft and the Salt Spring Island Arts Council.

Artist Talk: Sunday 27th August at 2pm.

The final showcase of the summer opens on Friday August 25th and runs until Artcraft closes on September 17th. Jeannette Sirois takes to the Mahon hall stage with a series of oversized botanical portraits created by many hours of painstaking work with oil and wax, coloured pencils, rendered on paper and mounted on cradleboards of up to 36”x54”.

Each still life study demands attention from the shocking strength and beauty of the colour , to the up close, hyper-real rendition of every detail of petal, stamen, thorn, built up with layer after layer of pencil strokes. Individually each work is breathtaking but collectively they have a power that draws the visitor up onto the stage to be closerto them, albeit with a sense of nervousness as the gallery space is so obviously controlled by the plants.

Sirois is comparatively new to Salt Spring and has only started showing her work here in the past couple of years, but has been creating and teaching art in other parts of BC for many years with a number of exhibitions in the lower Mainland.

Over the years she has used many different media to explore and create, from oils, acrylics and water colours to charcoal and clay; but has, for now at least, settled on the oil and wax sticks as her chosen instruments. It is a challenging  and time consuming drawing medium, requiring multiple layers of detail and colour to be built up to get Sirois’ desired result. It is also a less commonly used technique, and rare to see works of this size and intensity created by oil and wax pencils.

Sirois recently completed and showed a series of portraits of people again with a hyper real feel, showing every line, blemish, and discoloured blotch of the subject. They conveyed a real sense of bravery, vulnerability and sometimes pain. Artist and subject would often have emotional reactions during the sittings, as Sirois would get to know the intimate details of her subject’s life.

In “The Stillness of Life” there is perhaps less of a sense of getting to know the subject but there is still a conveyance of a sense of character and the depiction of some plants in blooming health, and others sagging into later life. There are conversations to be had, borne out by contemplation and the stillness of each study, as well the sense of wonder at the power and majesty of these plants, magnificently brought to a new life by the skill of the artist.

Exploring the dichotomies between the speed of our lives and the stillness of the mundane. Using iconic still life images of oversized botanicals, this series of works attempts to examine the deep-seated rift between the speed of our lives, and the stillness of nature as seen in still life illustrations. Plants drawn in detail, and on a grand scale, are used to challenge and ask the viewer to consider how the speed of our lives compares or contrasts to the stillness of nature as depicted in these images.  The two, seem diametrically opposed.  One, our lives, seem filled all the time and non-stop.  The speed in which visual, auditory and sensory information comes to us seems to fill our days, rarely allowing us to just be still.  On the other hand, these simple plants, represents what we are missing and what many of us have lost. Like these plants, our ability to slow down, breathe the air, absorb the sun on our fleshy skin, nourish our bodies, and be in this moment is the base to our existence, health and growth.  Stillness seems to be fleeting for us, or even unattainable, yet there it is before us.  Through this series of images, I hope to bring to the viewer, an opportunity to dialogue on who we are within this world, take opportunities to slow down, live this moment, see the world from a different perspective and take the time to be still.