My family has planted a forest garden in coastal B.C. The trees grow hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, apples, pears, figs, plums, apricots, and sea buckthorn. There are blueberry, raspberry, gogi and gooseberry along with grapes, and wildflowers on a lawn of clover.
Climate change has been a challenge with freak weather and unseasonal temperatures, the drought last summer and the floods this one.
I’ve been painting the fruits that do grow. Portraits of apples and plums, with as much attention paid to their individuality as I pay to my figure works.
Painting in a garden in a time of shifting ecologies is a celebration of resilience shadowed by knowledge. When Dutch painters in the 17th century painted fruit, they were in contemplation of the transience of human life, firm in the conviction that the eternal seasons would continue to unfold even as the eyes looking at the painting would turn to dust. To paint fruit now is to think about the ephemeral nature of all things, including the ecosystem. There is a qualitative difference in the sadnesses beneath the lustrous surfaces of historical and contemporary fruit paintings, with the later propelling one towards an immediate engagement with the luminous life force shimmering in the present moment.
ANN-MARIE BROWN is a Canadian artist currently working out of a studio on the far west coast of British Columbia on a thin slice of land between the forest and the ocean.