A Lifetime in Art

Heritage Room at The Mount Community Centre. Photo: Anne Cavanagh.

The Link, Spring 2018
| by Joanne Culley |

Ellen Cowie was asked to act as a volunteer curator in Peterborough for The Mount Community Centre’s new Heritage Room space. There have been two shows already: Reverence for Life, featuring Cowie’s paintings as well as some paintings by local artist Anne Cavanagh and Wild About Art, with works by Eddie LePage, Indi Miskolczi and Silvia Ferreri on the theme of the natural world.

“…viewed the world through an artist’s eyes for most of her life.”

For 10 years, Cowie operated a gallery on Lake Joseph, displaying her own work as well as the work of other artists. It was there she inaugurated her first Art for Autism Festival, which she started when her nephew was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.

The show is now being held in Peterborough and will be in its second year at The Mount Community Centre on June 1, 2 and 3. The Friday night gala takes place from 7 to 11 pm with the works of 30 artists on display, live music, a silent auction, wine and even a circus aerial act. The cost is $60 per person with proceeds going to Community Living Peterborough. Admission on Saturday and Sunday is $5 per person.

Ellen Cowie and her nieces, nephews and grandchildren creating an ocean drum. Photo: Ellen Cowie

Cowie loves everything associated with art and says she finds happiness when she has finished a piece. “I always get excited, whether I’m painting horses, portraits, cityscapes or abstracts and I’m as surprised as anyone at the end result,” she says.

She started painting as a child after watching her paternal uncle draw her and her siblings. “I was impressed that my uncle reflected our exact expressions, not an idealized version of us,” says Cowie. “My uncle’s paintings, as well as my maternal grandmother’s, hung in our home, which made me realize that art was something I could also do.”

Cowie has viewed the world through an artist’s eyes for most of her life. Growing up in Peterborough, she learned to paint in oils at St. Peter’s Secondary School. She then studied Fine Art at the University of Guelph.

“Living in national parks and other isolated areas forced me to develop my own style,” she says. “It was challenging to paint with young children around. A few times I’d finish an oil painting and then one of the children would paint over it. Fortunately, I was able to erase what they’d done!”

Her works are now on display at the John A. Libby Fine Art Gallery in Toronto, at the Eclipse Art Gallery in Huntsville and at the Whetung Gallery in Curve Lake First Nation.

Heritage Room at The Mount Community Centre, 1545 Monaghan Rd., Peterborough, Phone: 705-875-5095. Email: info@themountpeterborough.ca. Website: www.themountpeterborough.ca.