Paintings, By The Numbers Gallery 2022
Ken Kirkby was born during an air raid in London, England in 1940. The timing may have foreshadowed the warrior-painter he was to become. He grew up in Portugal and in the late 1950s, he realized his dream to move to Canada.
He spent five years in the Canadian Arctic and promised the Inuit people that he would find a way to raise awareness of their issues in the rest of Canada. This promise became “Isumataq” – the world’s largest oil-on-canvas portrait. The 12 ft high by 152 ft long painting of the Arctic landscape was exhibited at the Canadian Parliament in 1992 and Ontario Place in 1993. Kirkby then turned his “warrior-painter” gaze on the depletion of the salmon stocks and the destruction of their habitats in B.C. rivers.
Nana Cook was born in Vancouver, B.C. and raised on Saltspring Island. She studied make-up artistry and Middle Eastern dance, and then worked in both fields prior to teaching herself to paint in 1997. Her extensive lifelong travels in the American Southwest influenced her early choice of subject matter, scenes of Arizona and New Mexico. In 2004 Cook was invited to show her Southwest paintings in the exhibit, Women’s Declaration, of contemporary visual art by Chinese and Canadian women artists in Shanghai, China. At the encouragement of Liu Jian, Chinese artist and exhibits coordinator, Cook began a project of creating one hundred and fifty large paintings of arbutus trees, which has long since been surpassed.
Since 2014 Cook has continued to paint the trees and landscapes of her island home and beyond.