Antoinette Hérivel is showing her ‘Green Front Door’ series, which describes memories from early childhood during post-war Britain between 1947-51 in 31 watercolour, pencil, ink, collage and text drawing at the Gabriola library until Aug. 31. (Submitted photos)

Antoinette Hérivel is showing her ‘Green Front Door’ series, which describes memories from early childhood during post-war Britain between 1947-51 in 31 watercolour, pencil, ink, collage and text drawing at the Gabriola library until Aug. 31. (Submitted photos)

Gabriola artist blends history and memory in art show

Antoinette Hérivel’s ‘The Green Front Door’ showing until Aug. 31

Artist Antoinette Hérivel is showing a series at the Gabriola Island Library of memoir drawings that retell events from her early childhood during post-war Britain between 1947-51.

The drawings, entitled ‘The Green Front Door,’ are made of watercolour, pencil, ink, collage and text, and can be viewed until the end of August.

“[When I was a child], we had a door that was green, and it refers to the little girl – [who] I called my ‘frenemy’ – she told me that there was a bogeyman that came to kids who had green front doors,” said Hérivel. “And I really believed her.”

In selecting which memories to depict in the 31-drawing series, Hérivel said she didn’t just choose whichever memories were strongest, but the ones she thought might resonate the most with people.

“There’s one about my dog dying, which is a very common childhood experience … And also things that related to this history,” she said.

Another piece of Hérivel’s work includes copies of clothing coupons she was allotted as a child.

“You couldn’t get material and clothing very easily after the war for a while. And so everybody was issued ration books, not just for food but for clothing. Even children,” she said. “I didn’t use very many coupons because I was a child that didn’t grow very fast.”

One of her favourite drawings, she said, simply because it is symbolic of the time, portrays ‘factory girls’ on bicycles riding past a row of houses – which she said, are still standing today. Hérivel said she’s also reminded of the sirens that would go off at seven in the morning, at noon and one at night.

“That drawing brings back that era to me, and reminds me of those movies set in the ’40s,” she said.

Many of the drawings are rendered in watercolour paint, pencil and ink. In using watercolour, Hérivel said she thought it was appropriate since it’s a transparent, versatile medium. And one that lent itself to the memory scope and ‘distant nature’ of the drawings, in “not really being quite there, but still seen.” And like the medium, Hérivel worked in an impressionistic style so the depictions would appear reminiscent and indefinite, much like her memories.

The Green Front Door series is a prequel to another series Hérivel has worked on that retells memories from an older age, between eight to 11, as oil paintings.

She said that series has approximately 70 paintings that describe experiences between 1951-54, while living in a different community. It is, however, a personal project she has not shown publicly. Although, having done both series now, she said she’s interested in doing an another one that also incorporates history and memory.

Hérivel’s drawings can be viewed at the Gabriola library, along with an accompanying book until the end of August, but can also be viewed online at www.antoinetteherivel.ca, or on her Facebook page.



mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtsGabriola Islandhistory