P.E.I. couple show love for nature in new art show

Sally Cole
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Robert and Kathleen Milner care deeply about the environment.

And the Kensington artists are channelling their concern into a new exhibition, A Lens and Brush with Nature.

Featuring Robert’s paintings and Kathleen’s photographs, the show runs until March 31 at the MacNaught History Centre and Archives in Summerside. It’s part of the Sixty Days of Fame series.

“We’re inviting people to view the visual images we have created with the understanding that we all need to focus on preserving nature and the environment,” says Robert.

Whether it’s Sunlight on Phlox, Apples in the Wild or Sheltering Gray Partridge, his paintings invite viewers to stop and savour the moment.

In In Need of Repair, Robert takes his audience down a wetland boardwalk, around a corner and past a pond.

“I wanted to draw people into the sunlight. If you look carefully you can also see the boardwalk is actually moving. The boardwalk is warped. So it’s needing repair,” says Robert.

What inspired this piece?

“After wandering through wetlands, we wanted to show that everyone could enjoy this habitat if they just went out and did it. There are wetland trails all across this country. All people need to say is, ‘I want to go for a walk and I want to get close to nature’ and this is an ideal place to do it in,” says Robert.

Kathleen’s photography is equally inspiring.

Whether it’s Moon in the Splendour of Fall, Alone on Cabot Beach or Kits that Play, her work reflects her passion for nature as well as wild and domestic animals.

For example, her photo, Looking In, captures a split second in a horse’s life.

“On this particular day it had started to rain, so the rider and I went inside the stable. The horse was outside and the doors to the stable were closed. But when the horse heard us talking he pushed the door open. He wanted to know what was going on. When he did I just happened to have my camera with me so I took the photograph.

“Horses are such elegant creatures. I also realize how intelligent they really are,” says Kathleen.

In Out For a Walk, Robert captures the adventures of chickens.

“We were travelling the countryside one day, looking for places to paint and photograph so we stopped at a farmyard that some people had recommended to us. As we walked down the lane to have a look at an old barn, seven hens started walking toward us, as though to greet us.

“I liked how the hens had gone out for a walk and how, one little guy was trying to catch up. If you look into their eyes you can see their personalities. It’s humorous,” he says.

Nature’s surprises amuse Kathleen as well.

In her photograph, Contrasts in Beauty, a blue damselfly rests on a patch of wild basil.

“It was a very hot summer’s day in the wetlands. The damselfly was buzzing around and when he settled I took a photograph.

“He was such a tiny little thing. But when I enlarged it I saw how beautiful he was. You wouldn’t notice it because he moves around so quickly,” she says.

At the Culture Summerside office, Marlene Campbell is pleased with the positive reviews the show is receiving.

“It is a pleasure to be able to offer this exhibit drawn from nature’s beauty by two such diverse and experienced artists. It is our first exhibit that combines the mediums of painting and photography and they complement each other beautifully,” says Campbell, cultural programming co-ordinator.

While filled with pretty images, the show has a serious message.

“Wetlands and fresh water are so vital. We’re trying to bring that to people’s awareness through our images. We want people to identify with nature and conserve it,” says Robert.

Organizations: MacNaught History Centre

Geographic location: Kensington, Summerside

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