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E.J. Hughes Gallery opens Saturday in Shawnigan Lake Museum

Cowichan artistic icon E.J. Hughes cut his teeth as a war artist. -
Cowichan artistic icon E.J. Hughes cut his teeth as a war artist.
— image credit:

Canada's smallest-but-mightiest gallery dedicated to Cowichan's late brushmaster, E. J. Hughes, opens Saturday in the Shawnigan Lake Museum.

Artifacts from Hughes' Duncan home, plus original artwork, photos, and a sheaf of quotes from the celebrated war artist, auction-house hero, and former Shawnigan resident will be displayed starting at 5 p.m.

The show in a new addition to the main museum — opposite Aitken & Fraser Store — is called In His Own Words because of those quotes bespeaking Hughes' modest, creative nature.

"Rather than me interpret him, I'm letting Hughes interpret himself through his own words," curator Lori Treloar said.

"We're focusing more on the Shawnigan part of Hughes' career," she said of the hamlet where the Order of Canada and B.C. member is buried.

"I'd need an entire museum to focus on his whole career."

Treloar was especially proud of Hughes' painting table, palette, brushes, easel, and other items donated to the Hughes 'pocket' museum by his family.

"His family was very kind.

"The (Canadian) war museum and independent owners have large collections, but we have a nice collection for the public to see up close.

Shawnigan's museum is honouring Hughes' wish for average folks to appreciate his detailed, gaily coloured works of West Coast life spanning boats, docks and beaches, to cabins, trees and towns.

Treloar's idea was shared by volunteer Peter Nash, who noted fellow volunteer-patron Garth Harvey will be saluted Saturday.

"E.J. Hughes wanted people to look at his work and not be told about it, but get their own feelings about it," Nash said of the mini-Hughes haven hanging the famed painter's certificate from the Vancouver College of Art.

Guests also include Hughes' long-time friend and assistant Pat Salmon who helped guard the highly-private, soft-spoken artist's time for painting until his death at age 93 in 2007.

"Ed lived in Shawnigan Lake with (wife) Fern from 1950 to 1974, when they moved to Cobble Hill where she died in about '74," Salmon said of Fern, who suffered from muscular dystrophy and blindness.

"Ed would be be tickled pink about this little museum.

"It's like a poor-mans Hughes exhibit," she said, applauding support from Frank and Nancy Roseborough, and others.

"Nancy had the only Hughes art opening that he came to," Salmon said of Shawnigan's former Auld Kirk Gallery.

"Ed always bought something at others' art shows, based on their fidelity to nature."

 

Your ticket

What: E.J. Hughes' gallery launch In His Own Words

When: May 12, 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: Shawnigan Lake Museum. Call 250-743-8675.

 

 

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