Kathy MichaelsKelowna artist Laurie Koss’s Flower Series has been turned into prints so Koss can raise money for colorectal cancer research. Gillian’s Flower is in honour of Koss’ friend Gillian, who is battling the disease. There are cards, which are $5 and prints that are $45 that can be found at Hambleton Gallery on Ellis.

Kelowna artist creates fundraiser for a friend

Artist Laurie Koss was inspired by her friend's cancer battle to help her keep fighting

Kelowna artist Laurie Koss’s Flower Series gained praise for its unique insight into the way form, light and movement redefine what it means for an image to be beautiful.

Now with her latest endeavour, Gillians’s Flower, Koss wants to increase the reach of her art and use it to help save lives. The effort started three years ago, said Koss.

“Canada Post Commissioned me to do two pansy stamps in Feb. 2015,” said Koss Thursday at the launch of the Gillian’s Flower series at Hambleton Galleries.

“They came out and a year later I realized I had all these extra pansy photos and I had to paint the remaining 22 pansies.”

In May 2017 she had a solo show that was called Pansies. During that time she was also working with her close friend Gillian on a photography project. Gillian was dealing with Stage 4 terminal colon cancer, but she was still going to the studio with Koss every week.

On one occasion, she was looking at the pansy paintings and Koss asked her which was her favourite.

“She looked around and chose Pansy 17, and I said ‘from now on that pansy is known as Gillian’s flower,” said Koss, noting it was an emotional moment.

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Life went on and Gillian’s condition worsened, which weighed heavily on Koss. It all reached a peak around six weeks before Christmas when the two were chatting.

“She said ‘I have nothing to look forward to,'” said Koss, adding that Gillian wasn’t feeling sorry for herself. She was simply offering a statement of fact, given that her cancer was progressing and the pain and symptoms were accelerating.

“I thought back to a quote and it was, ‘whoever said we need wealth and fame to be happy, when all we need is something to look forward to?'” said Koss. “So I wanted to have something for Gillian to look forward to.”

So Koss decided to make Gillian’s Flower a print that would raise funds for colorectal cancer research. There are cards, which are $5 or 10 for $45, as well as prints that are $125. They can be found at Hambleton Galleries on Ellis.

She and Gillian also want the cards to offer incentive for people to get screened. There are 22,000 cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed each year and only 11,000 of those diagnosed will survive, due to late detection rates.

“If we can convince one person to get screened, then we will have done what we wanted,” she said. “It’s such an easy thing to do…. and fear around that test is such a big thing. If you’re over 50, go to your doctor and get a Fit Test. An ounce of prevention can go a long way.”

To learn more go to www.lauriekoss.com

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