Toboggan Lake painting by Mark Tworow. In the end it is not about the mountain- it is about the ways in which our lives are woven into the mountain and the mountain into us. And we discover modest understandings using our respective tools: the paint, this pen.- Patrick Williston. Tom Best photo

This mountain of ours

An exhibit at Smithers Art Gallery explores Hudson Bay Mtn with paint and prose.

The latest showing at the Smithers Art Gallery is one not to be missed.

This Mountain is a presentation by artist Mark Tworow and writer Patrick Williston. While the art from each could easily stand on its own, their collaboration brings the influence of Hudson Bay Mountain out in the open in a way we usually do not consider.

Local artist Mark Tworow chose Hudson Bay Mountain because “it is always there.”

The graduate of the Alberta College of Art feels that the area has a large number of talented people whose expression is presented in a wide range of style. For his own works, his main focus is based on nature and landscape.

“I have more color than I used to and more expressive strokes. I studied a lot of conceptual modern art but also a lot about drawing, technique and so on. These paintings are not hyper-realist, they are expressionist. I’m trying to capture the essence of a place and there certainly is a lot of beauty here,” he said.

He’s been working on developing this particular showing for the last one or two years. After this he feels that he does not have a particular theme for what he’ll do next.

“I’ll just keep painting,” he said.

While the pictures on display make a wonderful showing on their own, when they are associated with the words of Patrick Williston, they enter a higher realm.

“About two years ago, Mark approached me with the idea of a collaboration on the subject of Hudson Bay Mountain. The collaboration would be paintings that he would work up for this particular opening and alongside would be essays, poems or prose that I would write regarding how the mountain has influenced people who live below and the different relationships that people have with the mountain.”

Williston lives on the edge of the mountain and spends a tremendous amount of time there. In the winter, for example, he skis three or four times per week. In the spring he and his family harvest maple sap from the Douglas maple trees on the lower slopes. In the summertime they enjoy hiking, picking berries or looking for various mushrooms.

“We are interacting with the mountain all the time,” he said.

Interacting is putting it mildly. In a sense, it is like the mountain is becoming a part of the him. All of the water he drinks is from a shallow well in his yard that is supplied by the mountain’s aquifer. He explained he feels a real material connection to the mountain since so much of his body is derived directly form the mountain.

“This time of year, I like to head up there for hikes and running. We have an incredible network of trails. It’s a favorite place to run in the fall when the leaves are turning colour,” he said.

The mountain is also a refuge for his family and in times of stress that is where they’ll go to the mountain as a place to reconnect.

“The mountain has been a terrific presence and source of comfort,” he said.

He explained one experience he had with his youngest child in which a First Nations elder from school had taught the class about how to use the devil’s club plant for special purposes. She and her father then spent time on the mountain finding the plant and preparing it for use in various ways.

If you have any free time, check out this display and find out a bit more how our favorite mountain affects us all. The exhibition is on until Oct. 12.

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