If Varley Had Been a Beach Artist


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Dimensions: 71 x 63 cm

I had wanted to use the sandal cut-outs as tree profiles for a while. Originally I had a black and a brown cut-out together, which looked really good with the rust colour from the hinge in the green wood. The composition just wasn’t quite right though, so I looked at it for over a year, not sure what to change.

Jen kept at me that it was missing something, but neither of us could define it. I added the bent umbrella strut to better define the “boat”, but something was still lacking. I finally went back to original sandal cut-out and found an adjacent piece. I don’t know why it took me so long to try it, but all I had to do was go back to the beginning to find exactly what I had been looking for over the past year.

I wanted to use the Group of Seven reference since the picture first took shape. The tree-like shape of the sandals cut-outs and landscape subject, reminded me of the Group of Seven. I had originally called it “If Tom Thompson had been a Beach Artist”, but after a fortuitous visit to the National Gallery in Ottawa, I saw Frederick Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, and knew that was it. I knew it was inspired magic when I returned to Tofino and immediately discovered that Ralph, one of Tofino'smost colourful characters had a world class collection of Varley’s work, which he originally started from his friendship with Varley’s son, who had been coming to Long Beach for years.