Painting A future for Vancouver Island’s Fish-Bearing Streams
Published Date: 2010/3/19 17:27:31
Article ID : 7653
Ken Kirkby shows off some of the paintings he’ll sell to raise money for the Nile Creek Enhancement Society. (Keven Drews Photo)
By Keven Drews
UCLUELET — One of Canada’s most celebrated painters has big plans to save the salmonids of eastern Vancouver Island’s fish-bearing streams.
Ken Kirkby – who unveiled a model of a massive 48.33-metre by 3.66-metre painting called Isumataq in Parliament in 1992 – plans to raise millions of dollars for the Nile Creek Enhancement Society (NCES) by selling prints based on about 40 original paintings.
Some of those paintings, part of The Fish of the Nile Creek Series, depict the creek’s salmonids and their international cousins, and are currently on display in Ucluelet’s Mark Penney Gallery.
“You asked me, why is the passion for this,” said Kirkby during a recent interview with the Westcoaster.ca. “Oh, it comes out of anger, disappointment, mystery, negatives.
“When I was first here as an 18-year-old in 1958, the sea was full of fish, and the river was full of fish, and the sea was full of kelp and everything was in great shape.”
Kirkby said he ventured to Canada’s Arctic, and when he returned to eastern Vancouver Island after the trip, the kelp beds and the fish were gone, and he became angry.
“I’m not going to let my species do this bullshit anymore,” he said.
The Nile Creek is located on the central, east coast of Vancouver Island.
Kirkby’s plan is simple but ambitious.
He’ll use the money from the sale of the about 40 original paintings – he’s already completed 16 – to raise funds for the prints.
Some of those originals are currently selling for $4,000.
Corporations and organizations will then host charity events by cutting the NCES a cheque.
Patrons will buy tickets for the charity events, during which they’ll receive a print in a lottery.
“There’s a lottery aspect to the order in which you get to select your print,” added Penney. “You know you’re going to get a print, but it’s a matter of chance, which one you get to select.”
Kirkby said he hopes to raise $4 million: $2 million during the first phase and $4 million during the second phase.
The task shouldn’t raise any eyebrows because charity and fundraising events are nothing new to the NCES.
According to media reports, the society has already pumped millions of dollars into the Nile Creek.
And in 1997, the organization won a Canadian Environment Gold Medal Award from Canadian Geographic and the federal government.
Besides, Penney said, Kirkby’s original paintings are a natural draw.
Visitors to Ucluelet are enamored by the area, he said, and want to capture something from the Island to take home.
He called Kirkby a “titan in the art world.”
Kirkby said his paintings will remain on display in the Mark Penney Gallery.
He currently resides in Bowser, B.C., which is located north of Qualicum Beach.