Sonja Pawliw wishes she could find more room in her house. At the moment, her home is stuffed with paintings, mosaics, and other projects. She’s filled every square inch with art. She wants to redesign her house to have sliding walls so she can store her work away.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said.
Luckily for Pawliw, the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery took some of her artistic endeavours off her hands. They sifted through Pawliw’s decades-old projects and selected a handful of outstanding materials. They moved the pieces to the gallery, creating a brand-new exhibition.
“They knew what to choose,” Pawliw said. “They did such a good job.
“I was very humbled.”
The exhibition, titled “Sonja Pawliw: Living Garden,” opened on Sept. 9. Sonja’s friends, family, and fans filled the gallery for an afternoon reception, enjoying a selection of food and the wide variety of art.
“The exhibition is a retrospective of Sonja’s work and it demonstrates all the different mediums she’s engaged with over the years,” said Edie Skeard, co-curator of the exhibit. “We wanted to show how diverse her work is.
Pawliw has worked with the art gallery for years, often contributing to its annual local artist event. Executive Director Don Stein reached out to Pawliw to make a specialized exhibit for the fall.
“I had the idea that if we took all the work she did in the last 10 years, we’d have enough for a show,” he said.
The exhibit’s offerings stretch beyond the last decade. The work encapsulates Pawliw’s experiences from the current year to her childhood.
“It’s the last 60 years of my life,” she said.
Pawliw is best known in Yorkton for her garden (which won the “Canada 150 Garden Experience” award last year). Skeard built off that reputation when she designed the exhibit’s layout.
“I grouped things by theme,” she said. “I tried to build pathways through the different works, much like pathways in a garden.”
The exhibit is full of landscapes and intimate portraits of nature, with a specific focus on Pawliw’s visit to Ukraine. There are also several mosaic shoes and orbs. Mosaic is the art of creating something using small pieces of coloured glass. Pawliw enjoys breaking glass for her mosaics.
“It does take out some frustrations,” she joked.
One of Pawliw’s proudest creations is an obituary she made for her grandmother when she was 15. She wrote it in Ukrainian on glass. Pawliw credits her grandmother for nourishing her creative spirit.
“My grandma was my angel, my soul,” she said.
Pawliw wants to make more time to explore creative ventures in the future. She plans to spend less time with chores and more time feeding her artistic side.
“Don’t waste any time because life goes by so fast,” she said. “Age is something you can’t hold back.
“I always make time for the things I like to do.”
Pawliw is thankful for the opportunity to share her art with the public. She hopes she can contiune to create and explore.
“I’m sort of in a high cloud right now,” she said. “I’m very grateful for my health and my ability.”