Celebrated Canadian nature artist Robert Bateman is opening a new gallery in Victoria this weekend, but the artist says the aim is to do much more than showcase his work.
The Robert Bateman Centre, whose doors open on his 83rd birthday, will display the largest exhibit of original works by the popular wildlife artist. There will be 10 galleries in the centre, including one devoted to his paintings of British Columbia and another for works from Africa.
Since his earliest sketches, Bateman's passion for the natural world has taken him around the globe. Now the artist says strolling though his new gallery, which features some of the first bird sketches he made as a boy, is like a walk down memory lane.
"My first emotion I guess when I walk in: 'Oh, here's a whole bunch of old friends, or old enemies ... oh, I haven't seen that one for a long time and that one and that one,'" he told CBC Reporter Duncan McCue during a recent tour.
But what led Bateman to open the centre was not a yearning for nostalgia, but his determination to conserve nature and help people reconnect with the outdoor world that he spent his life documenting and seeking to protect.
And there's no hiding Bateman's politics in many of the paintings — waterfowl covered in goo from ruptured pipelines, seals trapped in fishing nets, a forest clear cut — all commentaries on the destruction caused by our disconnection…
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