Lumby resident Colleen Fielding holds a photo she took of two western kingbirds sitting on a wire that is currently on exhibition with other works at the Awakening the Spirit art show and sale at the Coatcheck Gallery in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre

Artists awaken spirits with imagery

11th annual Awakening the Spirit show and sale celebrates the strengths, talents and creativity of people living with mental illness.

Photographer Colleen Fielding has learned to trust her peripheral vision.

Out of the corner of her eye, she has been able to capture wildlife species in their natural environment that most people would drive on by, unaware.

It happened while she was visiting Mabel Lake Hall, near her hometown of Lumby.

“I saw this dark flash of movement, so I pulled up and there was a grey owl eating something on the ground. It flew off, and then when I looked up I saw another owl in a tree, its mate.”

Fielding’s photographs can be seen at the Awakening the Spirit art show and sale, currently showing in the Coatcheck Gallery, located in the lower lobby of the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

Supported by the Mental Illness Family Support Centre (MIFSC) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the 11th annual show features 62 works by 25 artists and celebrates the strengths, talents and creativity of people living with mental illness.

Encouraged to enter the show by CMHA group facilitator Marie-France Ladouceur and programs director Sue Myhre, Fielding has been using a camera since the age of 12, but stopped for many years before picking it up again.

“The camera was there calling my name,” she said, adding she has gone from using a film-loading model to a digital. “I photograph mostly wildlife and birds, but have shot some portraits and weddings.”

Fielding says aiming her lens at wildlife has taught her an important virtue, patience.

“I have also learned to stand perfectly still, especially with wildlife as you don’t want to scare them off,” she said.

“I was taking photos at the opening reception (for Awakening the Spirit) and someone observed how I was so patient. Taking photos has taught me to not only be patient with wildlife but with people, which is a good thing.”

Fielding points to one of her favourite pictures  in the show, a photograph of a lone wolf.

“I carry my camera everywhere and this photo came as I was coming in from Vernon. It was out playing in the snow in Lavington. I got him just as he was catching a mouse,” she said.

Another photo of a male loon came from a visit to Echo Lake a few years ago.

“Everything to me is interesting. I take a lot of drives to find photos and there he was by himself. The water was perfect that day.”

It’s through the arts and creativity that both the MIFSC and CMHA hope to break down some of the barriers and stigma that exist with mental illness, as well as give people living with mental illness a medium through which to express themselves.

“There is a vital link between creativity and well being for all of us,” said Ladouceur. “When we are engaged in a creative pursuit there is a flood of neuron activity in our brains, producing endorphins. The release of endorphins can provide relief from pain, help with the symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as elevate mood. The power of art as a therapeutic activity can benefit the mental health of individuals and communities.”

According to MIFSC manager Dianne Hustler, one in five people will have a mental illness in his or her lifetime.

“We hope that the Awakening the Spirit art show will continue to increase awareness and get people talking about mental illness so that people know that they are not alone. The show serves as a reminder that people with mental illness live, work, and create in our community. We also hope that it will remind everyone of the importance of taking care of their own mental health.”

Awakening the Spirit can be viewed when attending performances at the Performing Arts Centre until Nov. 3, with free viewings Tuesdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

To make arrangements for special group viewings, contact Sue at 250-542-3114.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Goose cull a no go in Vernon

Tied vote meant defeat for councillors in favour of the kill program

Vernon part of end of internment camp ceremonies

June 2020 marks 100 years since the end of Canada’s first internment camps, including one in Vernon

New Armstrong IPE president has deep roots

Heather King elected at IPE’s recent annual general meeting

Seedy Saturday returning to Vernon

Popular event hosted by Sustainable Environment Network Society set for March 21 at rec centre

Study proposed to investigate impact of septic fields in Okanagan Lake

Study would get underway in Killiney Beach and Westshore Estate areas in June

Okanagan rescue team comes back home from Australian mission

Brad Pattison’s team spent 33 days rescuing wildlife

Kelowna mayor to request RCMP’s ‘unfounded’ sexual assault report

RCMP said the report was completed over a month ago but have yet to release it or make a statement

Criminality not suspected in Ellison trailer fire death

The body was discovered after crews responded to reports of a house fire

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Kelowna youth accused of killing 16-year-old released

The young woman was arrested on Feb. 21 and is facing one charge of manslaughter

Interior Health appoints administrator at Summerland Seniors Village

Numerous concerns raised about private seniors care facility

Man arrested following suspicious trailer fire in Kelowna

Reports came in about the fire at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Monday morning

Body discovered following vehicle fire on Kelowna property

Firefighters discovered a body in a home on Anderson Road

‘Please be quiet,’ Kelowna Mayor tells sexual assault survivor protesting in council chambers

Forty per cent of sexual assaults reported to Kelowna RCMP in 2019 were deemed ‘unfounded’

Most Read