Bert De Vink’s sculptures reflect a lifetime
of contemplation, experience, success
His Retrospective Multi-media Show
will be displayed in the Quesnel Art Gallery
for the month of March with a gala
opening March 3 in the Arts Centre at the
Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation
Centre beginning at 7 p.m.
With light refreshments, appetizers and
lively entertainment, this is an opening
not to be missed.
Bert said he’s been an artist all his life
beginning with blackboard drawings in his
elementary school classes in his homeland
of the Netherlands.
He was also shaped by his experiences
under German occupation during the
Second World War. For a brief time he
attended art school before marrying and
emigrating to Canada at the age of 21.
“We were told people would meet us on
the platform, offer us jobs (don’t take the
first one offered) and all kinds of good
things would happen,” Bert said.
“But there was nobody there. We had
$200 and found a small apartment. I found
work in a box factory, but it was tough,
we had nothing.”
Finally fed up with the factory job, Bert
found work with B.C. Electric and Gas
where he learned to gas weld and his creativity
was sparked. However, earning a
living was still necessary, so Bert became a
ticketed welder and finally had the financial
stability that allowed him to return
to his artistic passion.
But Bert and his family were not happy
in the big city and moved to Vancouver
Island where he upgraded his industrial
welding skills at school and began exploring
the world of welded sculpture.
“I saw steel sculptures and knew I had
found my medium,” he said.
“I went to San Francisco and learned
about steel sculpture.”
In Victoria, Bert rented studio space to
pursue his art and that space became an
art gallery where Bert spent more time
managing the gallery than following his
art, but he said the lessons he learned as
the gallery owner proved very valuable.
The next move for this itinerant welder/
artist was to the Canadian Prairies but
both Bert and his family realized this
wasn’t the place for them. He didn’t feel
compelled to create and found the prevailing
attitude was predominantly anti-union
and anti-long haired hippies.
The family’s next stopping place was
Williams Lake where Bert found welding
work for more pay.
This move also proved barren for Bert’s
artwork and on a trip to Barkerville with
his visiting mother, Bert took a chance and
applied for work at the heritage village.
When they learned his trades skills,
he was hired for wagons and machine
restoration. He found the environment
stimulating and eventually moved up to
“It was a very prolific time for me artistically,”
“We also built a house on Bowron Lake
and stayed there for 15 years.”
Bert retired from Barkerville, eager to
pursue his sculpture work full-time.
They moved to a home on the Barkerville
Highway. He threw himself into
his art and had several shows often with
world-renowned artists. Bert was growing
his reputation which started with his work
The current show features Bert’s work
over the last 50 years and is a blend of
media including steel, wood, rocks, and
some man-made fibres.
When asked what is his favourite piece
in the show he took a moment.
“It has to be Burdened,” he finally admitted.
“This piece reflects the life we live, carrying
a heavy burden in hopes of a wonderful
retirement but the reality is, it’s all
dreams, that’s not most people’s reality.”
Several of the pieces reflect this concept
of burden. There’s one with a woman on
a bicycle with a baby in the basket and
another basket full of rocks ahead of
that which reflects the burden carried by
Other pieces are more optimistic and
uplifting. His work covers a wide range
Bert is also a musician and plays in a
local musical group as well as a writer and
has been writing for the Cariboo Observer
for more than 30 years.
Bert De Vink’s Retrospective Show is
sponsored by West Fraser Mills. Gallery
hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m.
– 4 p.m.