Amy Simcox finds herself drawn to the wild places of her past.
Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, the Stiene Valley in Lytton. She hiked all of them in the late ‘90s but their beauty lives in her mind. Now those landscapes form the basis of her first exhibit in 18 years – aptly titled Wild Places – at the Parkside Gallery this month.
She recently hung 25 of her latest paintings, noting all were created from memory. The exhibit opens on Jan. 14.
“I was just kind of playing with paint to see where it would go and I was constantly seeing landscapes,” said Simcox, 41, a teacher at 100 Mile Elementary School. “I wanted to be painting something different but I just couldn’t.”
Art has been a constant thread throughout Simcox’s life. As a student at Ashcroft Secondary School, the art room offered her a refuge from teenage drama. From there, she went on to Thompson Rivers University, where she earned a diploma in fine arts before pursuing an education degree.
It was there she met her husband Dave, one of her roommates at the time. As a third-year student and painter, Dave had a space in what they called the Open Studio. Simcox said he taught her how to paint and stretch her own canvases, a cheaper alternative than buying pre-stretched ones.
In art school, she primarily focused on photography and ceramics, which she showcased at TRU’s year-end show in 2000.
But despite her love of arts, life took over. Teaching took up a lot of her time and energy, Simcox said, as did the birth of their daughters Grace and Lily.
“I went on and did other things but now it seems I’m going back to that time and reconnecting with when I was younger and making art,” Simcox said, noting having the space and money to paint has helped. “I heard somebody say that it’s interesting that people who aren’t worried about money spend their time making art and I think it’s because they can.”
Last summer, she decided it was time to get back into what she loved – creating art in her basement studio. Her pieces include a range of different paintings – some two-by-four, others only nine-by-nine.
“There’s a variety of different styles but I don’t think just one of them encapsulates the show,” she said.
She said it’s scary to be showing this side of herself to the community. Many people don’t even know she paints, she said. Moreover, this will be her first solo show.
“When I was an artist I didn’t live in this town and I had a different name. This feels very unlike the person that people know me as here in this town,” Simcox said. “Reconnecting with that part of me is a little weird, but it’s nice at the same time.”
Wild Spaces opens Saturday, Jan. 14 at Parkside Gallery and runs until Feb. 11.