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Creating art from the ashes in Kamloops

Artist Sandra Pasmen is using ash and charcoal from the July 1 fire between Juniper Ridge and Valleyiew to create artwork. Her creations are being bid on, with money raised going to help wildfire evacuees and the Kamloops Fire Fighters charity.


Local artist Sandra Pasmen listened to her friends tell their stories from the night of the recent fire that threatened Juniper Ridge and Valleyview.

She said it was their eyes that spoke more than words ever could.

Each shared stories of the night that saw the fire between Juniper Ridge and Valleyview spread quickly, threatening homes above and below it, forcing the evacuations of residents in Juniper and Valleyview on July 1.

Their stories gave rise to an idea in Pasmen’s artist’s mind — to create art from the ash and charcoal remains of a once-vibrant forested landscape and donate money raised from sales to wildfire evacuees and Kamloops Fire Fighters charity.

When recent thunderstorms rolled into the city, Pasmen couldn’t sleep.

She picked up her smartphone and messaged a friend at 3 a.m., requesting she ask her husband (who works as a city firefighter) if he might be able to safely collect some of the recently charred wood and ash from the Juniper wildfire.

The firefighter was able to oblige Pasmen’s request, collecting Mother Nature’s materials.

Pasmen began doodling right away, learning to use the new medium. Within days, she had mastered the new sketching technique, using the charred wood from the burnt trees. The art is a stunning portrayal of the localized fire that threatened so many homes in the Valleyview and Juniper Ridge neighbourhoods.

Through her Facebook page, Pasmen has been posting each day’s new charcoal print, taken fresh from her sketch book. The response has been strong, with many people living along Nechako Drive in Juniper Ridge showing an interest in bidding and obtaining sketches created from the very fire that forced them from their homes.

Bids go live once the post is on her Facebook page and close at 8 p.m. that same day.

“The last person standing gets it,” Sandra Pasmen said.

If somebody wants a print, but feels they can’t afford to bid, they can message Pasmen on Facebook and she will make sure to provide a print at an affordable price.

She feels art should be accessible to everyone.

“I am blessed and honoured for the $250 bid, but I want to make to make art accessible to everyone,” Pasmen said, “So do not hesitate to contact me separately and I will do a sketch of a tree for $40. A steady donation is fine with me. I don’t mind doing it.”

Pasmen said she will continue producing the charcoal art pieces throughout the current fire season.

As of Monday, July 12, Pasmen’s art had raised $1,650 and she will be drawing live in Juniper Park on Sunday, July 18, from 10 a.m. to noon.