Susan Benson, RCA
Portrait of an Island is an exhibition of more than 150 portraits in oil of people who call Salt Spring island home. Susan Benson was originally inspired by Canada 150 celebrations and her desire to create a portrait of Salt Spring through the myriad characters who live here: At the same time celebrating the individuality of islanders and how those individuals come together to form a community.
The 8”x8” portraits will line the walls of Mahon Hall with a few larger portraits interspersed, along with a ticker tape of transcribed text from audio interviews. To provide a dramatic centre point to the exhibition, and to show the individuals as a collective whole (a community), there will also be one giant image of all the portraits, printed onto a transparent film and backlit in the style of stained glass windows. This way both the unique character of each individual and the collective strength and character of the community can be appreciated
Portrait of an Island is seen very much as a study and celebration of the community of Salt Spring, with the focus on people and their stories. To this end there will be an audio loop of interviews with the portrait subjects playing in the hall, revealing their thoughts and impressions of the essence of the island. There will also be a series of performances by a number of those whose faces appear on the walls; well known writers, musicians and artists amongst others.
Susan Benson is well known for her portraiture and painting, with numerous exhibitions on Salt Spring and across Canada. She has a portrait in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Canada, and was a semi-finalist in the prestigious BP Portrait Award in London, England. Susan was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 1986.
Supported by the Salt Spring Arts Council; The Banff centre for the Arts and Creativity, Paul Fleck Fellowship: and Seth Berkowitz Photography.