Artist finds inspiration in environment

In between painted watercolour panels of larger than life leaves and jutting branches, there is space.

The area is blank, but artist Sandra Hawkins says it is definitely not empty. It is filled with the imagination, and perceptions, of all who come to view her art.

The message may not be overt, but she suspects most people will probably see there’s a statement about the environment in there, too.


It’s written in the trees on the canvas and the water she represents on video and in the way visitors react to the design of the entire installation.

“When I look at my portfolio I see a consistent theme of this kind of meeting between human beings and the environment,” says Hawkins.

“I don’t think it was intentional, and I don’t consider myself a political artist, but environmental issues have been a concern to me all my life — not just because they’re topical today.”

Hawkins spent much of her professional life working as an environmental social scientist.

She always used her creative talents on the side, but it wasn’t until she got her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Ottawa that she really began to see herself as a full-time contemporary artist.

What she once said about the environment using words, she now says with the paintbrush and the camera.

Even the creation of several of Hawkins’ works — on display in the Liminal Spaces exhibition - were directly impacted by the nature around her.

“I painted outside in the rain so the pigment was spreading quickly in the wet paper and the leaves and pine needles were blowing into the work while the raindrops were falling in the paint,” she recalls.

“But I removed the leaves and needles,” she adds with a laugh.

Hawkins says this exhibit is the kind that is accessible to everyone because the trees and water are a “natural hook” in which everyone can see beauty and to which they can relate.

“I really don’t think it’s necessary to understand everything in art. It’s okay to just come, enjoy it and get whatever you can out of it.”

Hawkins’ Liminal Spaces exhibit runs until July 22 at the Gloucester Gallery, 255 Centrum Blvd. in Orleans.

She will be on hand for the official opening reception on July 5 to discuss her work.

Latest From ...