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Mary Margaret Land’s passion for flowers, Canadian values blossoms into exhibit at Confederation Centre

Mary Margaret Land holds “Determination”, her finished watercolour painting of Mountain Avens, the Northwest Territories’ official flower. It’s one of 13 original paintings in “Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity”, an exhibit underway in the boardroom of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN
Mary Margaret Land holds “Determination”, her finished watercolour painting of Mountain Avens, the Northwest Territories’ official flower. It’s one of 13 original paintings in “Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity”, an exhibit underway in the boardroom of the Confederation Centre of the Arts. SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Every painting tells a story.

And, if you take a few moments to study each image and read the accompanying prose, you will get a better understanding of P.E.I. artist Mary Margaret Land and how she feels about being a Canadian.

The watercolour exhibit is called, “Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity”.

Comprised of the official flowers of all 13 provinces and territories of Canada, along with a painting titled, “Canadian Unity”, it’s on view in the boardroom of Confederation Centre of the Arts until Dec. 22.

“Each flower is about a different value. So the whole show is about what we value as Canadians. And that, I believe, is our true wealth,” says Land, who has spent the past decade creating and developing the national project.

Take her painting of the lady’s slipper, P.E.I.’s official flower, for instance. It’s called “Connectedness”.

“This wonderful and rare orchid grows on an Island made of sandstone and its roots run deep. P.E.I.’s strength comes from its people and their deep connection to one another and their Island,” writes Land on the accompanying gallery tag.

 

This is a painting of a lady’s slipper, right, P.E.I.’s official flower by Mary Margaret Land. At left is her painting of a purple violet, New Brunswick’s official flower. SUBMITTED PHOTO
This is a painting of a lady’s slipper, right, P.E.I.’s official flower by Mary Margaret Land. At left is her painting of a purple violet, New Brunswick’s official flower. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Or consider the watercolour of mountain avens, the Northwest Territories’ official flower. It’s called “Determination”.

“High in the magnificence of the Nahanni, exposed to the elements, these stunning mountain avens thrive as they capture the light. Like the mountain avens, the determination of the people of the Northwest Territories to preserve their culture and traditions is both important and impressive,” she writes.

Take a moment to peruse the colourful pitcher plant, Newfoundland’s official flower.  It’s interesting to note that Land’s decision to use “Kindness” as its title was made long before “Come From Away”, the Tony award-winning musical about the kindness of Newfoundlanders to thousands of airline passengers stranded in Gander during 9/11, was written.

“Kindness is such a big thing. You bump into a Canadian on a sidewalk and they end up apologizing,” says Land, adding the seeds for the Canada 150 exhibit were planted in 1964.

At that time she was in Grade 2 and her father was helping her with a school project that she was writing about her family.

“We patiently cut daisy petals out of construction paper to make eight daisies. In the middle of each flower, we cut out yellow circles on which we pasted circular photos of each family member around the title, ‘Our Family’. ”

“My family was my first community and the circle has just grown bigger over the years.”

And now that she’s showing her work at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, her vision has come “full circle.”

“I’m very excited. It’s been a lot of years of working. The Confederation Centre is my favourite spot on the Island.

“And to have an exhibit here is close to my heart.”

Since childhood, flowers have become an important symbol in her life.

“People are kind of like flowers. And they grow in families and communities, which are like gardens.”

 

If you are going

  • Who: Mary Margaret Land, wife of Grant Curtis.
  • What: “Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity”.
  • When and where:  Boardroom of Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown, on view until Dec. 22.
  • Why: The artist created the paintings and the prose over the past 10 years to mark Canada’s sesquicentennial.
  • Meet Mary Margaret Land: 
The artist will be present at the exhibition Dec. 15 and 17 from 1 4 p.m. to talk to visitors about the project.
  • Coming exhibits: From 20182020 the exhibit will tour the 12 remaining capital cities.

 

5 things about fact box

1 - The pink and white lady slipper can live longer than the average human life span – some species may grow be 100 years old. They can be found living in open fens, bogs, swamps, and damp woods where there is an abundance of natural light.

2 - The lady's slipper is known in the United States as the moccasin flower due to its similarity to a shoe or moccasin.

3 – In addition, lady's slipper can also ease nervous pain; however, this herb is best used in conjugation with other herbs for treating this condition. Lady's slipper is possibly at its best when it is used to treat anxiety or nervousness related to sleeplessness or insomnia.

4 - The deep pink flower, which many people say resembles a slipper, grows about 7.6 cm long. Unlike most flowers, this is closed tightly except for a small opening in the front.

5 - Pink lady's slipper is endangered in some areas because they take a long time to grow, and because people collect them.

sally.cole@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/SallyForth57

 

 

 

 

 

 

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