Elaine Hunter’s philosophy of art is simple: “If you create, you create in many ways.” The photographer and digital artist is also a dancer, choreographer and dance teacher for her new school, the Halfmoon Bay Performing Arts, now going into its second season on Sept. 17.
“Children, dance and nature are the biggest passions in my life,” she said.
She has found a way to stay engaged in these cross-cultural interests through her dance school and her digital photography.
The images that she captures come mostly from the Coast’s scenery: sunset at Secret Cove, moon rise over Wakefield Beach or a mirror image water reflection at Skookumchuck. Out in her garden, her camera has caught a rose in translucent glory and has zoomed in on the raindrops that cling to the tips of pine branches, making them appear like living beings swimming in a green ocean. Using filters and her own “secret recipes,” as she calls them, for digital photography, she can create a dramatic effect as if she were choreographing nature.
The images are stunning, but it is her other-worldly photos that have captured the attention of viewers in three countries. As she was flying back from England in 2011 after attending the funeral of her father, she looked out from the plane over the Coast Mountains and glimpsed another dimension so high above the earth. The vision was a gift from her father, she believes.
She began digitally manipulating the natural images of mountain scenery using suns and moons that were sometimes transformed into silvery metals or blood red spots. It’s as if a distant galaxy had visited our planet.
She has shown her work at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and is currently preparing for a show in Whistler and one in Powell River next June. A New York gallery has expressed interest in an exhibition, and so has a gallery in London’s Brick Lane.
Digital photography has opened up this world.
“I loaded the new software and I saw what I could do,” she recalls. “There’s a huge amount of art in it — I’m creating all the time.”
Hunter’s dance teaching comes out of years of professional training. She’s been dancing since she was two years old, trained as a teacher and began a dance school in Ottawa that she ran for 31 years. The dancers performed on Parliament Hill and also fundraised for charities. She thought that she had finished with dancing when she moved to B.C. to be nearer her adult kids and grandchildren who lived in Nanaimo. The Sunshine Coast appealed as a place to live because of its involvement in the arts, plus she wanted land to stretch out on and found it in Halfmoon Bay. She hadn’t been here very long before she was teaching dance again, and she is thrilled that the school’s first year enrolled 60 students aged three to adult for jazz, tap, ballet and musical theatre.
With more dance programs on TV, children and parents see the value of it.
“Dance gives them confidence for life,” Hunter points out. She has also discovered that students who excel in dance do well in school — they are high achieving kids. A bit of a high achiever herself, Hunter continues to work on her photo art and her dance training.
She will be showing her work during the Coast’s Art Crawl Oct. 19 to 21 at her home studio. More of her portfolio can be seen at www.elainehunterphotography.com.