The Meadowlark Festival is an initiative of the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance (OSCA) which was successfully established twelve years ago to encourage people of all ages to experience, discover and explore our natural environment. In a tradition which has to its credit some of the biggest names in wildlife and nature art in British Columbia, OSCA has selected Penticton's own Jan Little as their featured artist and it is with great pleasure that the Penticton Art Gallery once again participates in the festival with an exhibition featuring artist's work. The exhibition Habitats and Inhabitants includes drawings, photographs and a sculpture installation consisting of found objects specifically created for this exhibition by Jan Little and her brother Patrick.
In talking about this body of work Jan Little writes, "Habitats and Inhabitants is an examination of the species at risk in the South Okanagan and Similkameen. There are hundreds of species of plants and animals whose existence is threatened here. Several are found nowhere else in the province or country. Some have already been extirpated. In most cases the species are endangered because of lack of suitable habitat due to the outward spread of urban and agricultural development.
For me, drawing or painting something is a way of getting to know it. My brush or pencil on canvas or paper stands in for my fingers exploring the surface of the specimen. I become aware of the texture of its fur, feathers, scales, petals etc. and can begin to understand the body of the surface, its bone structure and weight, what it might feel like to hold. In drawing animals, the acute observation of the face and posture leads to tan idea of the animal's character and I can begin to see unique personalities of this artwork will serve as a personal introduction between neighbours (the viewer the and the subject), which may in turn result in greater concern for the welfare of these species."
On his body of work Patrick Little states, "In the South Okanagan and Similkameen many valleys, basins, peaks, flats and holes are home to a world that is rarely experienced by the region's human inhabitants. In times past, human relationships with the land were far more intimate than today. My photography and sculpture explores this relationship. Sometimes using the photograph as a recorder of the emotional content (to be passed on to the viewer) of a pure beauty we call 'nature'... other times questioning how the concept of 'nature' came to become something defined as separate from human involvement and how we designate 'natural' habitat from 'unnatural' habitat (in the context if invasive species, human settlement, etc). As a photographer, I find myself separated from the spaces I document by a lens and a complex machinery that attempts to preserve the landscape in an abstract world. In this way, my modern condition separates me from the habitat I am physically a part of but it also provides me with a means to know it. Many of the photographs are moments on walks in nature where I flee my tripod and camera to try to put myself into the frame and become an inhabitant in the habitat which I depend on."