Delicate and Serene are my 'first impressions' of Lori Motokado's large watercolours on display in the Hope Arts Gallery. An old boat docked in Harrison lures me through the hallway tunnel. In the Backroom, a dozen more familiar scenes. Boats in Nelson and Steveston. A casual display of battered trunks at the Kilby Museum in Harrison Mills suggests travel and a time warp. A toy wagon, a tricycle evoke nostalgia for a childhood of long ago. Another tricycle, stashed in the Kettle Valley Museum in Midway, is a streamlined rocket of the 1930s whose design is so fast and sleek and modern, it was way ahead of cool. The plant portraits—bamboo, an apple branch laden with blossoms, a frilled tulip bud, a blue balloon bursting to pop, all atop the palest suggestion of a wash—are images of transformation, capturing the moment when one thing becomes another.
Artifacts, horticulture, waterfronts are subjects and scenes which could be 'anywhere', yet the artist's graceful captions locate them specifically, while at the same time expanding upon her inspiration—“to make the ordinary extraordinary”. Indeed, as the images capture and hold our attention, we identify with the battered luggage and the abandoned toys which have moved from function to fondly forgotten. We too will cycle through stages, ages, places of storage; we will live in memory, evoke nostalgia. This art helps us feel more fully aware and thus, more fully alive. Everyday objects become iconic; the light and colour, translucent, luminous, numinous. Focusing on the beauty in which we live, these paintings are elegiac in the best sense—a mourning for our lost selves, a celebration of the way we were, a recognition of what is to come, and hope, in the buds of spring.
Lori Motokado lives in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Her recent watercolours hang in the Hope Arts Gallery Back Room from March 1 to 28, 2008.