Artworks by Langdale painter Andrea Pratt that encompass iconographic portrayals of spirituality and ecology are featured at the Gumboot Café in Roberts Creek this month.
Pratt gave the title Spiral Notebook to her solo show of acrylic and oil paintings on square wood panels.
The show’s name is more than a nod to Pratt’s creative process. Chunky spirals spin and pulse in each of her paintings.
The significance of the shape is unique to each of its contexts. In Insight, surrounded by leaves and forest fauna, concentric rings nurture germs of life. In Hamlet, nested ovoids reflect a wide-skied setting inhabited by a dragonfly and a long-legged magpie.
“A lot of the symbols are purely what appeals to me visually,” Pratt said. “But when I combine them, that’s when I create the intentionality for the piece. And I do reuse my favorite symbols—for example, trees are an area where I’ve had a lot of fun in the last six months, just developing new ideas for tree shapes and how to make them work in a composition. You might say the evolution of each symbol has its own timeline.”
Pratt’s panel paintings are themselves composed of smaller panels, episodic patchworks of vignettes that can be viewed in any order.
“The concept of interconnectedness is central to human philosophies as diverse as Zen Buddhism and environmentalism,” she said, “and is what I believe to be our most important guiding principle.”
Pratt’s personal trajectory traced an arc around Howe Sound. Her Langdale studio faces the water in the direction of childhood homes in Horseshoe Bay and Lions Bay. Educated in Visual Art at the University of Victoria, she became a full-time teacher while raising two children. Day-to-day demands resulted in an 18-year hiatus from painting.
“But the desire never really went away,” she said. “There was something missing and it took me some time to actually realize that painting was it.”
Pratt quit her teaching career and began painting full-time two decades ago. She has exhibited her work at locales like the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and the Sechelt Hospital, in addition to answering a thriving commercial demand for what she describes as her “fusion of abstract, landscape and folk art.”
Some of Pratt’s imagery was inspired from real-life encounters before being sublimated into formline abstraction. A crow perched regularly on the sill of her kitchen window, watching her at work. “He was kind of a companion,” she said. “It was just like I was his YouTube. I’ve used photos of him as inspiration for a lot of my shapes depending on what kind of postures he used to strike.”
Such serendipity is an essential ingredient of Pratt’s work. By combining and recombining archetypal forms, her paintings reward study with meaning that hangs on happenstance.
“I like the idea of having a point of connection with people, but not immediately,” Pratt said. “There’s something to draw you in but you don’t get it right away. It takes a little time.”
Andrea Pratt’s Spiral Notebook is open to the public at the Gumboot Café in Roberts Creek until June 30. Select works are displayed on her website at www.andreapratt.com and on Instagram at @andreaprattart.