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Nanaimo painter battles pandemic blues with tropical exhibition

Shawnda Wilson presents ‘Tropical Wallpaper’ at Old City Quarter barbershop
Nanaimo painter Shawnda Wilson hangs her exhibit Tropical Wallpaper at Jonny the Barber. The show runs until the end of March. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Travelling to sunnier climes may be frowned upon during a pandemic, so in her latest show, artist Shawnda Wilson is bringing the tropics to Nanaimo.

From now until the end of March, Wilson presents Tropical Wallpaper at Jonny the Barber in the Old City Quarter. Wilson will be in attendance each Saturday of the month to meet with guests. She’ll also be selling art works from previous shows as well as copies of her latest poetry chapbook, Muses on a Tight Rope.

Wilson said Tropical Wallpaper was motivated by the feeling of ‘pandemic fatigue’ and how people are limited in the actions they can take to cope with the mental health impacts of COVID-19.

“All of our natural responses are forbidden, basically, like go commune with other people or go somewhere warm,” she said. “And so I decided I was going to do tropical paintings because I thought, ‘If I could be anywhere right now where would it be?’ And I just thought, ‘Anywhere tropical.’”

The paintings feature bright watercolours and tropical fruit linocut prints. Wilson said the title of the exhibit was inspired by home decorating trends of the 1970s.

“It was really big to have motif-style rooms where all the fabric and paintings matched each other. That was the interior design specialty of the time,” she said. That’s what I was thinking of with these.”

WHAT’S ON … Shawnda Wilson presents Tropical Wallpaper at Jonny the Barber, 309B Wesley St., from March 1 to 31.

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