Like many local artists, Ashcroft resident Esther Darlington has drawn inspiration from, and painted, the dramatic countryside in our region. Until November 30, seven of Darlington’s landscape paintings—collectively titled “Under Thompson River Skies”—are on display at the Sidewalk Gallery on Railway Avenue (across from Safety Mart); and anyone who donates $100 to the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society (WRAPS) will be able to pick one of the paintings to keep.
Darlington is passionate about the arts, and in June 2017 donated $2,000 to WRAPS to assist with their production of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical this year. “I know WRAPS has lots of support from the region, but they’re getting so much bigger,” she says, noting the leap the organization took in 2015 by staging My Fair Lady. “They’re a worthy cause.” Darlington also donated $2,000 to WRAPS in 2016, to help with the production of Arsenic and Old Lace.
“And I think we’ve come of age in Ashcroft. We’ve moved beyond ‘admission by donation’,” she says. “The performances sponsored by WRAPS over the last several years have been of professional calibre. It’s remarkable for a village this size. We’re blessed to have the kind of talent we have here. Having the HUB as a performance centre has contributed also, in a great way.”
Last year Darlington donated $3,000 to the HUB Society. She says she was almost in tears after HUB manager Vicky Trill took her on a tour of the facility. “The energy and dedication going in from that small group is incredible,” she said. “It’s so well-organized, and to walk around and see every room being used was an upper for me.
“I’m impressed by the determination of the HUB group to maintain and develop our former elementary school. There is still so much potential in this building for enhancement of the quality of our community life.”
Darlington says she came up with the idea of selling some paintings to benefit WRAPS, and approached Angela Bandelli, who operates the Sidewalk Gallery. “She thought it was a great idea. And it’s nice to be able to give to something I really enjoy myself.”
She says that people don’t realize how costly it is to stage the productions WRAPS is now doing. “Copyright alone runs into thousands of dollars. Then add costuming, make-up, set materials: they all add up.
“To say that the improvisation and ingenuity shown by the director, actors, and crew members is remarkable is not an understatement. I hope my contribution at Sidewalk will help a little.”
Darlington’s paintings can be viewed at the Sidewalk Gallery. Donations can be made to WRAPS or to the gallery on behalf of WRAPS, with donors entitled to the painting of their choice.