POP shows park cabins

The Passionate Outdoor Painters outside of the Port Moody Arts Centre, where they have a group exhibit.  - PMAC
The Passionate Outdoor Painters outside of the Port Moody Arts Centre, where they have a group exhibit.
— image credit: PMAC

Back in March, the Passionate Outdoor Painters group — better known as POP — was invited to capture a scene that will soon be history.

As a member of the Port Moody Arts Centre, POP was asked if its six painters could create images of the half-a-dozen Belcarra cottages still left standing.

Residents of the rustic, old homes near Belcarra regional park had their leases terminated by Metro Vancouver this summer and their beloved abodes will likely be razed for park expansion and liability concerns despite their historical and cultural values: For decades, the cottages were used as summer escapes by Lower Mainland families and, centuries ago, it was a First Nations settlement called Tum-tumay-whueton.

Intrigued with the request, POP sent off an email to its painters to see if anyone would be interested in the project. “That whole thing really appealed to us as outdoor painters because it was a living community, almost from the past,” said POP founder and spokesperson Jane Appleby last Friday.

“It really inspired us about people living in nature, a little bit simpler.”

The area was already known to several POP painters, she said: Appleby, a Burnaby resident, had kayaked from Barnet Marine Park to Belcarra; Alison White rode her horse through the park; Randy Green, a Port Moody resident, frequents Belcarra as does Sahar McCullough.

At first, Appleby thought she would go and paint some pictures of the cottages on the residents’ behalf but, when she walked around the site, she became immediately entranced. “I was very much moved by the experience,” she remembered. “It very much opened the doors for creativity.”

Appleby began by painting the waterfront cabin of Jo Ledingham, a tenant for some 50 years. The cottage of the 74-year-old grandmother has no dishwasher, washer or dryer but it does has a remarkable view of the Burrard Inlet.

Next, Appleby turned her attention to a bear-faced rock. “These were things that spoke to me on my first day there,” she said.

Appleby said the POP painters, which also include Sue Cowan and Sally Turton, had a special fondness for the spring and summer light around the Belcarra cottages.

“For an artist, that’s hard to find. I go to many parks but, there, the light goes through the trees and the hills. In March, the shadows were incredible. The light goes off the wood and has this wonderful texture and colour.”

In five months, POP painted 36 pieces of the Belcarra cottages, which are now being exhibited at the Port Moody Arts Centre. In total, the group has 130 sketches and paintings on display as part of its Natural Inspirations show that closes on Aug. 14.

For its opening reception last month, the Port Moody Arts Centre had a record turnout, with many people wanting to know more about the background of the cottages.

As well, several artists expressed an interest to see the site for themselves and offer their take on a place that will soon be lost forever.

“Our group felt enamoured, touched and privileged to be asked first,” Appleby said.





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