Morning Lake art exhibit opens in La Ronge

Caron Dubnick speaks about the gallery on behalf of the La Ronge Arts Council as Hilary Johnstone looks on. Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan

Following a week-long canoe trip on Morning Lake in June 2021, where they spent time sketching and painting. La Ronge Artists Caron Dubnick and Hilary Johnstone created a show of their finished work, which opened Oct. 3 at Mistasinhk Place.

Funding for the canoe trip came from an Independent Artist grant Johnstone received from the Saskatchewan Arts Board. The two artists developed their work over the next year to create the pieces included in the joint exhibit, which is open until Oct. 30.

Dubnick welcomed people to a reception in honour of the exhibit opening on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Hilary Johnson talks about her work for the Morning Lake project. Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan

She spoke of her art, which is mostly watercolour. The past year she’s moved into watercolour batik.

She has a mentorship relationship with a woman in Saskatoon and experimented over the past year with many techniques with several different materials.

“I’m happy to tell you what the process is … the short version – it’s on paper but it’s very like the textile batik process where you wax where you do not want the paint or the dye,” Dubnick said. “I’ve tried to sort of combine the watercolours techniques where you have a lot of soft edges with the batik process where you have a lot of harder edges. You try to make them work together.”

The two women were able to work and “keep our art materials dry for a week” thanks to Henry Ratt, who has a trapline on Morning Lake.

While they did some canoeing, the largest part of the time on Morning Lake was spent concentrating on their art.

“We did at least three sketches every day, each of us,” Johnstone said.

The exhibit includes both the sketches and finished work.

Artist Miles Charles was on hand for the reception. His work will be featured in an exhibit at the Mann Gallery in Prince Albert soon. Photo by Valerie G. Barnes Connell Jordan

Johnstone creates “vibrant fabric collages based on her northern experiences.” Both artists are inspired by the northern boreal forest environment where they live.

With COVID restrictions lowered, she expressed appreciation for the La Ronge Arts Council’s chance to host a variety of exhibits and meet in person once again in the gallery space at Mistasinhk.

Exhibits, three annually from Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (OSAC) and the rest local artists, are hosted at the gallery most months of the year, Dubnick said.