Sheila Kernan | Real Places, Imaginary Spaces

August 20 - September 1, 2022

3045 Granville Street, Vancouver


Canadian artist Sheila Kernan’s new solo exhibition, Real Places, Imaginary Spaces, highlights a collection of West Coast Canadian landscapes. Developed from a magical expedition, wandering through both the old-growth forests and the surrounding coastal beaches, the paintings include many upland habitats with an abundance of intertidal life.


Utilizing photographs, sketches and memories, Kernan carefully composes scenes based on real places. Her distinctive aesthetic is evident within the many layers found within her paintings. With bold forms, captivating colour combinations, and soft and textured brushstrokes, her approach to transcribing nature is undeniably one to see in person. 

Artist Statement:

I was enchanted by the expansive biodiversity within a small geographical region, both when investigating and exploring the old-growth forests of the Port Renfrew area and also the hundreds of species of plants and animals, not to mention rock formations, within Botanical Beach on Vancouver Island.

Finding beauty in these locations, reflecting upon the enduring trials and tribulations that each region faces, I was reminded of a quote I heard in a podcast: “Creativity has the power to look pain in the eye and to decide to turn it into something better.”

I find absolute beauty in the various stages of decay found in the forest - the smell of cedar and the colours of lichen blanketing the bark that is crumbling off some of the oldest trees on our planet.

This is representative in the many layers of paint I used within this collection. From thin washes where the paint is breaking down to pigments that pixilate into dots or watercolor washes, to thick, textural globs that are emblematic of icing on a cake, each brushstroke within my paintings works together to create a pattern of drama and variety.

It is abundantly clear that nature thrives within the tide pools on Botanical Beach, even though here they face some of the harshest conditions. I was captivated by the distinctive traits and many varieties of life forms found in each. Robin's egg blue, rosy pinks, brilliant greens, and oranges, set alongside and juxtaposed with muted rock formations and navy blue waters. It was immediately clear that I could spend a lifetime cataloguing and painting this small area. Each kilometer I walked, the colours, shapes and textures of the rocks morphed as the light shifted and changed from direct and bright to overcast and moody.

Art has the power and ability to take you somewhere, and I hope this collection showcases the effervescence of the West Coast. Each piece is from a real place, but became an imaginary space.    - Sheila Kernan 2022

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