Northern views, southern hospitality
Terrace’s natural beauty played a supporting role in last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards’ festivities in Hollywood, with a local photographer’s artwork featured in a weekend gift lounge gift bag.
Photographer Sylvia Hart, who lived in Terrace until she was 18 and just returned to the area two years ago after spending years in different pockets of the United States, had two pieces of photography – both of the Terrace area – in an artisan gift bag (sometimes called a “swag bag”) given out to celebrities in the event’s gift lounges over the weekend in Los Angeles.
Gift lounges are one of the perks of being a celebrity – celebrities visit the lounges and are given products. Photos are then taken of the celebrity with the products for promotional purposes.
The gift bags that featured Hart’s work included the work of artists and artisans of The Artisan Group, an invitation-only artists-collective that features handcrafted products, of which Hart is a member. She also sells her artwork online through her Etsy online shop – and has customers from all over the world.
“If you’re an artist, and want to start out [opening an online shop] is a great way to do it and not spend a lot of money,” she said, noting that there are a few local artists in the online groups she is a part of – but there could be more.
This isn’t Hart’s first brush with celebrity. She worked as John Travolta’s personal assistant for six years in the early ‘90s, taking family trips with him and even attending the Oscars.
So, in her words (and southern accent, as she spent most of her years in the southern United States), the celebrity stuff is a bit “been there, done that.”
Hart’s more interested in photographing and promoting the beauty of Canada and the northwest, and using it as an opportunity to show people south of the border and beyond about what Canada is like.
“I just thought it was neat that some of my stuff from little ol’ Terrace was going to be in them, somebody’s going to get stuff from Canada,” she said. “I really like to promote this area because it’s so beautiful and I think people have certain ideas, conceptions of Canada, conceptions of living up here.”
And while she’s grateful for her international clientele, it’s the Terrace arts community that she really wants to boost.
“Terrace is really open to new artists, with displaying, and helping promote,” she said. “I love the way people accept artists here, the art gallery had a show just before Christmas and there were incredible artists there. There’s quite a few good photographers in town, a lot of people who do quilting and jewellery.”
In fact, although she’s been taking photographs for quite some time, it wasn’t until she moved to Terrace that she had her first showing – at Cafenara.
“I have an online shop, but I’d never done the physical part,” she said, noting that she met the owner, Sonny, one day and that’s all it took. “I got such a good response.”
Now, her work is on display in a number of places around town, including the Terrace Art Gallery and Red Raven Arts in the Skeena Mall. Red Raven’s is a co-op, so you can find Hart and her fellow artists working in the gallery throughout the week.
“That’s been great, there are a lot of talented people in this town,” she said. “When you live in the cities you don’t really get to notice the handmade stuff as much as when you live in a town like Terrace.”
Hart says her work is different than most of the artists in town, as she displays her photographs using a standout board format that makes them very light and ready-to-hang – and also easy to ship, perfect for her online business.
She only has a couple of cameras (one a recent gift from her husband) and she takes one of them with her everywhere, and doesn’t like to use Photoshop.
“Here you don’t have to do much,” she said.
She says there’s something special about the northwest and doesn’t plan on leaving again. “It’s stunning, anywhere you sit. We’ve lived all over the states, driven motorcycles all over the States, and we’ve seen a lot,” she said.
“But when I came back here with my camera, everywhere you look it’s beautiful – the natural light here, the mountains and the blue, the colours here are just amazing. It’s just different. I don’t know if it’s the air or what, but you can go anywhere and get the most amazing shots.”