See nature and culture interact at ‘GreenLinks’

ARTS_GreenLinks artist Margaret Lawther

New Douglas exhibit features art and science

By Cheryl Minns, Arts Editor

Amelia Douglas Gallery’s latest art exhibit, GreenLinks 2014: Urban Oases, explores the changing definition of what an oasis is in today’s urban landscapes. Now motor vehicles, buildings, and corporate logos such as the Golden Arches are just as much a part of an urban oasis as nature, as shown in Margaret Lawther’s series of oil paintings on display in the gallery.

“I’ve always been interested in urban landscapes, urban parks, urban streets, and the way nature and culture interact,” Lawther told the Other Press. “There’s kind of a dialogue between the two and I really believe it’s necessary for us as a civilization to come to terms with that because it’s not going away.”

The artwork on display includes large paintings of local scenery as well as miniature paintings called studies, which are the basis for the larger works.

“I set up on a street corner and paint the little ones. I take lots of photos and I work from the photos and the studies,” Lawther explained. “In the winter, you can just have all your studies and your photos, hunker down, and do some larger paintings.”

The seasons not only influence where Lawther paints but also what she paints. Two of her studies on display are of the same location created during different seasons. Study #5, a scene of bright, lush greenery on either side of a city street, was created in the late spring when everything was coming to life. Study #6, a harvest orange tree losing its leaves on the side of the road, was painted in the late autumn when the area was preparing for winter.

“The light is different and the colours of the leaves. The whole colour cast is because of the light,” she said. “When you’re painting in plein air, you’re really painting the colour of the light that envelops the scene.”

Lawther gave a presentation about her work in the Amelia Douglas Gallery on September 12, speaking to a crowd of students and members of the community. She also brought her easel and painting tools to demonstrate how she creates “plein air” (outdoor painting) artwork.

Her advice to the art students in attendance regarding their art is “don’t listen to what other people say you should do; just do what you want to do. You have to work hard, really hard. Paint whenever you can, even when you’re not inspired. That’s really what it’s all about.”

To view more of Lawther’s Oases series and other works, visit her official website at

Alongside Lawther’s paintings in the gallery are displays by the Douglas College Institute of Urban Ecology’s UNIBUG project (User Network for Insect Biology in the Urban Garden). The displays feature the group’s work, research, and tools as well as fact sheets about UNIBUG and the insects the group has been studying.

For more information about the project, visit the UNIBUG website at

GreenLinks 2014: Urban Oases will be open until October 17 in the Amelia Douglas Gallery at the New Westminster campus.