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Changing styles keeps Creston artist busy

Joanne Ferry says she’ll be happy to finish her house renovations and get back to her passion of creating art...
Joanne Ferry's artwork is featured at Kingfisher Used Books until June 15.

Joanne Ferry says she’ll be happy to finish her house renovations and get back to her passion of creating art.

In the meantime, however, she has created “a bit of a retrospective” of her artwork that is now on display at Kingfisher Used Books.

Ferry moved to Creston in November of 2009, having lived here briefly in 1976.

“I always liked Creston and when I wanted to move away from the Lower Mainland it felt right to come back here,” she said last week.

After leaving Creston in 1976 she moved to Nelson, where she studied at Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson.

“I started out focusing on fabric and weaving,” she said. “I’ve always done drawing. I wanted to bridge the gap between art and craft — it seemed like if a piece was done by a female it was considered a craft, so there was a gender gap, too.”

From 1989-95 she studied at Emily Carr College in Vancouver, attending part-time because she had small children. Her life as an artist took an unexpected turn when she starting work as a scene painter in the film and television industry.

“I loved the challenge of that work,” she said. “They’ll just throw a job at you. Every day you are sent on a mission. But it involves long hours and is hard on the body.

“I especially enjoyed working on independent films. It pays good money and it’s something I can go back and get work on when I want to.”

At Emily Carr, she said she was lucky to be sponsored by a company that wanted to help women get established.

“Going to art college was like having a giant studio, with all the amenities,” Ferry said.

She had to make an effort to create her own artwork once she graduated, though, because her scene painter job was a demanding one.

“It’s hard to make your own art when you are working 12-hour days in the film industry,” she explained.

Now that she’s settled in Creston, Ferry finds herself drawn back into the creative world and she had a chance to teach drawing and painting at Creston and District Community Complex. She also taught at a kids’ camp last summer.

“I find teaching inspiring,” she said. “I really believe that everyone can draw — it’s about learning to look at things differently. You learn from students, too.”

Visitors to Ferry’s show will get a glimpse of an artist who likes to work in more than two dimensions. Some of her works are painted on wood that she has cut into shapes and layered to add thickness. She’s drawn inspiration from many cultures in her travels around the world.

Creston is an inspiring place to live and create, she said.

“I love the landscape here. I’m from the prairies, so I love the fields and the grain elevators. And we have a great art community.

She is also an accomplished portrait artist and one of her treasured portraits is among the pieces now on display.

“I like to do a mix of abstract and realism,” she said. “It’s hard to tie me down to one kind of thing. Sometimes I’ll work on three or four paintings at a time. I find changing styles very stimulating.”

Ferry invites the public to meet her at Kingfisher Used Books on 12th Avenue North on May 27. The display of her work will continue through June 15.