Staff at the Mann Art Gallery were surprised to learn that late Prince Albert artist, Andrée Felley-Martinson had left the gallery $10,000 in her estate.
Director/curator Marcus Miller said he received the news through an email sent by the executors of the will.
“We’re ecstatic to have her beautiful paintings and we’re ecstatic that this was just a complete surprise to all of us,” Miller added that the gallery is grateful.
Felley-Martinson lived in Europe and later moved to Saskatchewan in 1963 with her husband. Former director/curator Jesse Campbell described her work as still life but said Felley-Martinson saw beyond certain subjects and her work came naturally to her.
“It was very much a part of her spiritual life. She saw God in art and the two go hand in hand for her, you can’t have one without the other. I think that her art, regardless of what we might be seeing as something like a bouquet of flowers, or a lemon, or a plate it’s beautiful but for her it’s very much a vehicle towards something deeper and more spiritual,” she said.
Campbell met Felley-Martinson in 2012 during an internship at the Mann Art Gallery. She was assigned to visit her studio and get to know her work. From that, the two became friends. Campbell said that they had a lot in common and kept in touch over the years, even after her internship ended.
Campbell returned to Prince Albert in 2014 as the director/curator at the gallery and curated Andrée Felley-Martinson: A Retrospective.
“It’s a curators job to understand what art is being made and what artists are working in the city, that’s how I knew her. But we also did develop a deep friendship,” she said.
Felley-Martinson was known to be a good host, making sure her guests were comfortable. Campbell said she had a lot of conversations with her about art, life, spirituality, Prince Albert and Saskatchewan.
“We had many visits that were many hours long. I don’t think there was such a thing as a short visit with Andrée.”
Felley-Martinson lived in Switzerland, Ireland and England before moving to Saskatchewan.
Campbell believes this demonstrates “how place shapes a person,” for Felley-Martinson to make such an adjustment in her life. She added that she thinks Felley Martinson had a difficult time adjusting to Saskatchewan, but friendships with George Glenn and Margaret Van Welsh, “transformed her”.
Campbell was also surprised to hear about the bequest.
“It very much goes to show how Andée valued the arts and wants artists in Prince Albert and area to be supported through the purchase of their work.”
Another artist, George Glenn, became friends with Felley-Martinson when he moved to Prince Albert in 1975.
Glenn described her as “vivacious” and said she loved people, animals and nature.
“She had a sense of wonder that enabled her to connect to people of any age,” Glenn said.
He added that she was a very good cook and if she had the time and energy and knew in advance guests were coming over, she would have a meal prepared for them.
Glenn was added as a trustee on Felley-Martinson’s estate and responsible for looking after her art collection.
“I would see that the paintings were well-placed, that they went to people who loved her work and loved her.”
He said this is the reason why the gallery received some of Felley-Martinson’s work. He added that he knew she had the gallery in mind for the monetary bequest.
As for how the gallery plans to spend the funds, Miller said they will be used to purchase new art that he’s keeping under wraps.
Felley-Martinson’s bequest will be acknowledged when that art is displayed or reproduced.
“Most galleries across the country have no budget for acquisitions and they rely completely on donations. We’re so lucky and so grateful to have this money to play with. We’ll honour her for years, and years to come with the art we buy there.”