A new glass mosaic based on the work of a prominent Ashcroft artist was unveiled on October 29, on the Community Futures Sun Country (CFSC) building in Ashcroft. It is the 28th glass mosaic to be installed in the town, and honours Small Business Month.
Close to 70 people braved the chill of a November morning to gather for the unveiling of “Phoenix Rising”, based on a painting by artist Pauline Ogilvie. In attendance at the unveiling were Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart and the Hon. Coralee Oakes (Cariboo North), Minister of Small Business.
Artist Marina Papais, who designed the work and who has been behind almost all the mosaics that have appeared in Ashcroft over the last few years—either as artist, designer, teacher, or some combination of the three—says that she has wanted to create a mosaic based on one of Ogilvie’s paintings of the area from the get-go.
“It was five years ago that I realized I would be doing mosaics in the town, and Pauline was an inspiration. I’ve adjudicated art shows, know a lot of great artists, and am a gallery artist myself. I’ve been exposed to great art since forever, and I think she’s a great Canadian artist who hasn’t been discovered yet.
“When I saw her work I wondered why she wasn’t in major art galleries. She has a really rare gift, and I thought ‘Someone has to let the world know about Pauline Ogilvie.’”
Debra Arnott, general manager of CFSC, said she was talking to Papais and her husband, Daniel Collett, about another project they were working on, and the talk turned to the possibility of the pair doing a mosaic for the CFSC building in Ashcroft. “I wanted to do something in recognition of Small Business Month. They came back within hours with [Ogilvie’s] painting, and I thought ‘I guess we have to find the money to do this.’ I’m so pleased; it’s absolutely fabulous.”
The original painting was housed in the old Zee’s Pizza restaurant beside the CFSC office, which was destroyed by fire in 2005. Working from pictures of the original, Papais and a number of volunteer helpers of all ages, got to work on the mosaic reproduction, which they called “Phoenix Rising”; an allusion to the bird from Greek mythology which attains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor.
It took close to four months for the work—which measures 6 feet by 9 feet without the frame—to be completed at Papais’s studio at the Ashcroft HUB. The name of each person who contributed time to the project is commemorated in the finished work under a glass bead.
Papais admits that while the piece would not have been her first choice of Ogilvie’s works to commemorate in glass, it was the community’s choice, and she felt it would look very good in mosaic form. “It’s such a colourful and vibrant work.” The painting depicts the many colours and textures of the landscape around Ashcroft, and Papais is glad that the mosaic is located so close to the home of the painting on which it is based. “It’s just magical that way.”
Ogilvie, who was present for the unveiling, downplayed her role in the project. “It’s not about me; it’s about the community. This community has always supported the arts. The painting was my vision of what was outside my window; the landscape I have always loved.”
Tegart noted that when Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat was in Ashcroft in June for the unveiling of the mosaics in the Chinese cemetery, she was “so impressed with the work that has been done and with what’s happening. This is a great art community, and the development of the mosaics has been incredible. As a community we appreciate our artists.”
Oakes spoke of the value of artists to their communities. “We need to appreciate them as small business people.”
Papais says that she would like to do another mosaic based on an Ogilvie painting, and hopes to do other mosaics honouring local artists. She has already been commissioned to do a mosaic based on the mural that Ashcroft artists Jo Petty and Royden Josephson painted for Ashcroft’s sister city of Bifuka, Japan (a painting of the artwork hangs in the Ashcroft council chamber). The finished work will be displayed on the side of the Ashcroft library building at 2nd and Brink.
“It will be the same size as Pauline’s mosaic,” says Papais. “The community chose Jo and Royden to go to Bifuka and do the mural, so this is a community choice that honours them, as well as our sister city.”