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Kamloops Arts Council presents Elaine Burn’s “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide: The Birds”

Featuring Elaine Burns at Kamloops Arts Gallery.
Elaine Burns with First Call
Elaine Burns - Artist

The Kamloops Arts Council is elated to announce Elaine Burns as their new featured artist in its Main Gallery. Entitled “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide: The Birds,” the collection features stunning depictions of our feathered friends in oil on panel. Oil paints are Elaine’s preferred medium, and her skill is apparent in the beautiful textures and colours exhibited in all eleven pieces.

Elaine’s inspiration for these spectacular creations was birthed from the tragic wildfires that recurrently plague British Columbia. Starting in 2019, the first bird Elaine painted, entitled “First Call,” aims to express how she felt “knowing that birds and animals suffer from the wildfires, through loss of life and loss of habitat.” From there, Elaine executed three smaller studies inspired by the same topic, but did not have a complete, working concept until 2021, a record year for natural disasters in B.C. Elaine, like many of us, watched in horror as 870,000 hectares of land, homes, farms, towns, and rural communities were decimated by the forest fires, followed by a multitude of extreme weather patterns, such as a heat dome, king tide, and atmospheric rivers and floods. When witnessing this onslaught of unusual weather activity, Elaine comments, “My heart went out to all those displaced, but it broke at the thought of the fear, pain, and loss experienced by animals and birds with ‘Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide.’ Each bird became a symbol of my reaction to these events and how overwhelmed I felt by the devastating loss of lives, homes, and communities.”

Although many animals were displaced by the historic forest fires and floods, Elaine chose to focus specifically on birds. When asked ‘Why birds?’ Elaine answers, “[They] are such wonderful animals. To see a bird soaring high in the air, or gracing me with morning song, it fills my heart with so much joy. For me, they make the world a better place.” Elaine also feels that there is much we, as people, can learn from birds, specifically the raven, which is the breed she chose to style many of her birds off of. While ravens are often associated with loss and bad omens, Elaine chooses to focus on their adaptability and great empathy, as she believes these are attributes that humans will be required to master, particularly in our rapidly changing world. “Adaptability,” Elaine says, “in our thinking of how we use our sources of energy, how we grow food for sustainability and how we turn the table on climate change, [and empathy] to recognize and understand each other and support each other in a non-biased manner.”

Evidently, Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide: The Birds is about more than beautiful depictions of birds. Through her work, Elaine encourages us to consider nature, climate change, and how the two are intertwined. She hopes that as we move through the exhibit, each avian story becomes clear and that it “sparks constructive conversation to better our world.”

The Kamloops Arts Council invites all to experience Elaine’s gripping work from Friday, May 13 to Saturday, June 4, 2022, at the Old Courthouse, 7 Seymour Street W. You may also view her work online on the Kamloops Art Council’s website, available at kamloopsarts.ca.