By Dee Dwyer
On Barb King’s living room walls, wildlife is captured in watercolours and pastels capture wildlife from the plains of Africa to the waters of Antarctica: there’s a charging African elephant, not far from a pod of Emperor penguins. Barb King—an artist, traveller, and chair of the Old School Art Gallery—has recorded her travel adventures, landscapes, and animals in her elegant artwork.
Born and raised in Toronto, Barb King worked in oils when she was in high school, inspired by her grandmother’s art. Barb likes the challenges of arts and crafts, and has done tole painting, macramé, and quilting. She made a Double Wedding Ring quilt, with 2700 pieces of cloth. She worked as a mother, in homecare, and as a special needs teaching assistant in the Durham school system. When she retired in 2001, she and her Nova Scotian husband of 45 years came back to live in his home province, where they had vacationed every year.
“When I heard that watercolour was one of the more difficult of the arts, I wanted to take it on,” says Barb, ready for another challenge. She took classes from the Bridgewater artist Frans Aeyelts, who encouraged her to continue. “I fell in love with watercolour and gave up everything else--all my hobbies,” says Barb.
Living in Amherst, Barb became involved in the Sackville Art Association. She also was part of a cooperative that rented an empty tourist centre which became the Tidnish Bridge Art Gallery, which is still successful today.
So seven years ago, when Barb moved to the Eastern Shore, she brought her gallery experience to the Old School Art Gallery in Musquodoboit Harbour. “Our goal here,” says Barb, “is to showcase high quality, original, local art. People are amazed at the quality. We exhibit up to twenty-five artists at a time. We want to encourage younger artists too, whose work will improve if they keep at it.”
Barb’s passion really shows when she starts to talk about her travels, starting with her Antarctica cruise, which also took her to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands. The art on her living room wall reveals other far-away destinations: a watercolour of the walls and temples of Machu Picchu; tortoises in South Africa; and mountain landscapes in Switzerland. In Turkey, she was sketching the vast ruins of Ephesus when a security guard told her to stop sketching the columns. She closed her sketchbook. “But I have the drawing,” says Barb, proudly.
Barb’s work is on display at the Old School Art Gallery.