Nancy Poole’s Studio, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Valerie Palmer was born in 1950 in Toronto. She received a B.F.A. Honours from the University of Manitoba, where she studied with Ivan Eyre.
'Sanctuary' (1986) as with all of Palmer's work, was painted on location. The setting is a 1930's hunting and fishing lodge on the north eastern shore of Lake Superior. During the course of the painting, she realized that this place had come to represent a kind of sanctuary for her and she acquired the property the following year. It remains her year round home and studio and has provided the landscape setting and imagery for Palmer's unique figurative paintings for over thirty years.
Painted from life and memory, her work blends the European figurative tradition of working directly from the model with the artist's encounter with the Canadian wilderness.
"Sanctuary" has a sense of narrative but is not a genre painting. Like most of Palmer's work it eludes categorization. The landscape, interpreted with searching brushstrokes, is filled with a mood of both unease and melancholy that belies its beauty. If there is an air of innocence or nostalgia about the northern lodge, so long a place of dreams and escape for the traveller, the building with its shuttered doors and windows also evokes a sense of disillusion. The figures shown in close proximity to each other, seem strangely alone in the off season solitude. Each are separate, in their different quests. The girl lost in her own thoughts about the past or future looks inward, while the local boy and his dog out hunting in the immediacy of the moment, makes casual eye contact with the viewer.