Born and raised in British Columbia, I grew up under my family’s creative influence. My mother was an avid oil painter. She, in turn, was inspired by her grandfather, A.A. Brooke, who was an accomplished water colourist. As a little girl I was mesmerized by my great grandfather’s hand painted journals, and learned about my family history through his lovingly rendered paintings of their life on the farm. These journals would later become valuable historical records of pioneer life in both Alberta and British Columbia museums.
But it was Arthur Brooke’s wildlife paintings that captivated me the most. To this day, I stand in awe that he could capture the serenity of deer grazing in a field, the playfulness of a bear cub, or the mighty majesty of a pair of bull moose in a fight for supremacy. Little wonder that I would grow up with a love for nature and all its wild creatures.
In high school I was fortunate to study under one of my greatest teachers, George Siddall. It was through his teachings and constant challenges to step outside my comfort zone, that I came to understand that life, like art, is a creative process. I would forgo even my lunch hours in order to immerse myself in every course he taught, because in every new project he challenged us with, there was a parallel lesson about life. Heady stuff indeed for a young impressionable mind.
I had dreamed of attending art school, but life has a way of steering one in the direction in which one has the greatest opportunity to learn. And so I stepped outside and began my studies under the wisest teacher of all – nature. Life and art as process? Nature has that lesson perfected! Now, I feel fortunate to have had my creative path unfold as it has, allowing me the freedom to explore the subjects dearest to my heart, without outside restrictions.
Though I grew up in British Columbia, I have spent most of my life in Alberta and am equally at home walking the west coast beaches as I am tramping through the marshes of prairie wetlands in search of subjects for my work. It’s a privilege to step into the wild and gain insight into each animal’s life in their own habitat. My photographic journeys have taken me throughout North and Central America, as well as East Africa, in search of animals wild and free in their natural surroundings. What a gift!
I have been fortunate over the years to have a career path that allows me to use my creative talents as resident artist and storyteller in a public library setting. The opportunity to nurture children as they follow their own creative paths – including my own children and grandchildren – ensures that the legacy from my great grandfather continues.
Today, my life is filled with kindred spirits from whom I am still learning; artists, photographers, storytellers and naturalists. The creative process never stops. Thanks, George.