Bettina Somers and Muriel Ferley | Recent Donations to the Permanent Collection


This exhibition features a selection of works by tow artists who have made a significant contribution to the early development of the visual arts in the South Okanagan. The donations came to the gallery in 2008 and give greater context to two artists whose work is already held in our collection. What made these donations unique is that they also include significant ephemera relating to each artist and their careers thereby opening a greater window into their creative process and providing an invaluable record for further study and understanding of their work and their role in the arts community. 

Muriel Ferley (1926-2008) Donated by Wade Farley and the Estate of Muriel Ferley

Muriel Ferley was born in Calgary and was largely a self taught artist but she did attend the Winnipeg School of Art taking art courses through the extension program along with a number of night courses through the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts in Penticton. Muriel was the president of the Penticton Art Club and a key figure in the artistic community of Penticton and the Okanagan Valley from the 1960s through the 1990s. Muriel exhibited widely throughout B.C. including exhibition with the Confederation of Canadian Artists.

Bettina Somers (1904-1987) Donated by Brian Wilson and the Okanagan Archive Trust Society

Starting in 1917 Bettina began the daily commute from her home in Oakville to Toronto where she attended Toronto Central Technical School taking art lessons from Sam Findly, a friend of several members of the Group of Seven. Upon graduation she began to work for Rober McCausel a noted designer and maker of stained glass windows and began designing theater sets and costumes. In the early 1920's her life took a change of course and Bettina studied nursing at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children where she graduated with honours in 1928. In October of that year she Married Edward (Ted) Somers and in early 1930s they moved to England. After the conclusion of the World War II, they returned to Toronto where Bettina once again took up studies in art.

Somers' skill in representing the anatomy in movement is best summarized in a series of work created while watching the rehearsals of the National Ballet and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Many of the resulting paintings ave been exhibited internationally including shows in New York, Boston, Chicago and London. She was also fascinated with the sport of Hockey and her painting Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Chicago Black Hawks was awarded second prize at the 1948 Summer Olympics held in London, England. The painting is now part of the permanent collection of the International Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum located in Kingston, Ontario.

Upon the death of her husband in 1975, Bettina move to Summerland where she remained until her passing in 1987. During her lifetime her work found audiences across the globe and was regularly feature in exhibitions held by the Canadian Society of Painters, Graphic Arts Society, and in a number of touring exhibitions organized by the National Gallery of Canada.