Courtenay artist Christine Boyer has set out to document on canvas the native wildflowers of Canada and she’s unveiling the first paintings in that series in Nanaimo this month.
From April 9 to 23, Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick. It’s her first solo show and the first time she’s created a body of work connected to a theme. She said she’s normally “all over the place, subject-wise.”
“I really just allow myself to be influenced or inspired by anything that I see and I go for it,” Boyer said. “So this is the very first time that I have forced myself to do a series and that was scary but the product has been great and it’s been a really good learning experience.”
For the series Boyer had to educate herself about Canadian flora, and in her research she discovered that flowers she grew up with and loved and remembered from her travels were not actually native to Canada at all.
“A lot of the flowers that you see along the side of the road or a lot of the ones that you consider wildflowers were actually brought over by ships,” Boyer said. “So there’s a very interesting dialogue that can happen around indigenous plants and a whole conversation that can happen about colonialism.”
This portion of the series will feature flowers from B.C., Alberta, the Yukon and Ontario. While they aren’t normally seen blooming at the same time, the flowers in the show will be bunched together geographically in five-by-five-feet bouquets. As a trained theatre scene painter, Boyer is used to working large-scale and said some of her other paintings are as big as 10-by-12 feet.
“When you paint sets, everything is very big and dramatic,” she said.
Boyer said the larger canvases allow viewers to get a better look at some of flowers and experience them differently than they would in nature.
“A lot of the prettiest wildflowers are so small. They’re very, very tiny,” Boyer said. “So I was able to really play with scale, so make the tiny ones as big in the bouquets so you could really see what they are.”
Boyer said her floral paintings have evoked feelings of nostalgia and childhood memories in some of the people who have seen them so far.
“A lot of that is because we’re not allowed to touch the plants that are in our mom’s garden,” she said with a laugh. “But as a kid you’re allowed to touch and you’re allowed to experience the wildflowers.”
WHAT’S ON … Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick, 13B Commercial St., from April 9 to 23. Virtual reception on April 9 at 7 p.m. on the gallery’s Instagram and Facebook pages.