Since I was a kid, I was charmed by butterflies. Such gentle and beautiful creatures, back then they seemed to exist just to make the child's world brighter.
Once mom took me to an estate-museum of Vladimir Nabokov, a great Russian writer, word painter, Nobel Prize nominee, who left Russia soon after the Bolshevik revolution. He was born in St. Petersburg and spent the first 20-some years of his life there.
Some of it I knew before going to the museum. What I didn't know then is that he was even more fascinated with butterflies than I was. That museum right away turned into my favourite place in the world, as it had Nabokov's butterfly collection. Blue and green, small and huge, with enchanting patterns braiding their wings, and plain little night moths with furry bodies, those butterflies kidnapped my imagination and mom had hard times getting me out of there.
The summer came, and once I made it to the summerhouse, I decided that I was going to create my own collection. I wasn't sure where one would get those big gorgeous blue-winged butterflies, but I figured that I could start with what was flying around.
I had a butterfly net and the hunt began. Like most other kids, I kept my plans a secret just in case adults would think that something is off and start throwing monkey-wrenches into the works.
After a few hours in the fields and snooping around the house, I was ready to start the project. I had a beautiful peacock butterfly flapping in my jar, a piece of a board that only vaguely resembled delicate mounts I saw in the museum, a hammer and a few rusty bent nails I found under grandpa's working table in the backyard. My excitement was through the roof, as I already was envisioning my vast gorgeous butterfly collection hanging all over the walls and hundreds of admiring visitors I would take around the house to share my love with them.
Ten minutes later grandma found me crying on the floor in the middle of the living room with a hammer in my hands and a nail sticking out of the board over some kind of a mess. It just didn't work out. Who knew the butterfly should have been dried first? Who could guess the hammer and nails were too rough of tools to mount it? Who would assume the siding board appeared to be a pretty tricky material to work with?
I was heartbroken and told my parents that I had to go to the museum, this time to understand how the displays were arranged. I wanted to try again next time. Later I learned the museum burned down and most of the collection was lost.
I was smiling as all those memories were rushing through my head while I was standing in the middle of the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum the other day surrounded by beautiful quilted butterflies. I finally made it to their exhibition, and on a cold January day suddenly found myself in the middle of a summer-day adventure.
The last year was so weird, that even though I never lost my love for butterflies, I don't think I noticed a single one last summer. We just get so focused on problems that we stop noticing things that please the eye and bring aesthetic enjoyment.
Recently I read a TED article about seven types of rest, all of which are needed for us to feel recharged, and one of them is creative rest, which "reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us," according to the article. While I couldn't go see the Grand Canyon, I finally found a place where I could get some creative rest, recharge and restart my imagination.
Only once I made it there, I realized how much I missed something light and beautiful for the sakes of beauty in my life. I was standing there, looking at artwork by Cheryl Andrist and Marilynn Malo, and feeling how the gap inside me was filling up with the harmony created by their Fabricated Nature.
Once it was filled, the inspiration started growing inside. The changes I could feel were just like fed with sunshine dandelions, created by Monique Martin and exhibited in the other gallery.
In just half an hour at the EAGM, these two very different and still alike exhibitions made me feel happier, aesthetically satisfied, freed and inspired. They brought up memories and positive associations. They allowed the tired brain and blurred eye to let go, turn the page and see the beauty of the world. They gave me the "awe" without leaving Estevan and encountering new breathtaking landscapes. They reset me, and I am very grateful for that.
The exhibitions will be on display just until this Friday. So if you get a chance, check it out and let your eyes and soul relax for at least a short little bit. You'll thank me after.