Bernadette Mertens-McAllister 2017

Bernadette Mertens-McAllister was born in Switzerland of Belgian parents. She always had two loves: art and nature. In Brussels she obtained a Diploma of Applied Art for Photography. She then studied large format black & white photography with well-known artists in California. Donald Ross introduced her to Ansel Adams and the Sierra Group f/64. As a young woman, she traveled to Afghanistan and Central America. In 1970, her first experience of Canada was a journey in the High Arctic using her camera to capture the beauty of the country and its people. She had a photography studio and was a freelance for many years.

Bernadette received a classical education that was infused with, and informed by both modern and contemporary art. Remaining open to new techniques to enhance her art, she broadened her original use of photography to include her new found love of painting. Her multimedia body of work, acrylic paints added to collaged photos, has become one of the key areas of her ever expanding vision as an artist.

After many years ranching in the remote interior of BC, she moved to Salt Spring Island with her husband in 2012. She became involved with both the Painters Guild and the Photography Club. For her it was, and remains a pleasure to volunteer her time and share her experiences in the company of other artists.

Mertens-McAllister has had solo shows at the Public Art Gallery in Kamloops and the Museo Costumbrista del Estado de Sonora in Alamos, Mexico. Her photos where included in the “International Exhibition of Photography” in Mexico and Arizona. She now participates to the photography shows on Salt Spring Island.

The theme for this year Photosynthesis exhibition is: “Pretty Pictures?”  In my series called “Sorrow” one wonders if indeed they are pretty photos or not.  One should question the meaning of “pretty”…  Perhaps in art theory, we can analyse shapes, values and composition and one could argue that in this series all basic elements are present and acceptable.  But are the photos “pretty”? And why should they be?

These 6 images for me are unique in the sense that they go deeper than just offering an image of a superficial subject.  I believe that beauty is found in each photo because I simply resonate with it.  Every day I’m surrounded by “sorrow”; I’m aware of the feeling of pain and the longing for happiness.

I was able to work on the original images so that the figures are non-recognizable and look solid like stone.  I wanted to remove any story and create a distance necessary for the viewer to feel the impact and stay with his own reflections and personal experiences.