Drift – Drawings and mixed media by Bettina Harvey

Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 30, 6–8 p.m.

Artist Talk – Drift, Pivot & Release: Thursday, September 7, 6–8 p.m.

The graphite drawings of Bettina Harvey’s Drift series are renderings of the natural world, but they also operate as metaphors for her experiences with her father. After he was diagnosed with dementia, Harvey would accompany her father for walks along the beaches of Denman Island, where he carefully selected pieces of driftwood as gifts for his daughter. The delicacy of these pieces meant that Harvey had to carefully transport and preserve them before they fragmented or disintegrated. Much like her father’s mind, the driftwood seemed impermanent and fragile—the substance of a past about to disappear. The pieces had been part of something whole and, through travel from forest to sea to beach, were shaped by a lifetime of experience, the evidence of which was now only suggested by the hints of past attachments. 

After losing her father, Harvey continued to collect and document driftwood pieces in his memory, pursuing the parallels of aging within the natural and human worlds. For her subjects, she selects only branch attachments or tree collars, nodes of wood that express connection, attachment, and growth. 

The drawings in the Drift collection evoke the human anatomy—overlapping tissues that resist the process of decay. Each piece is centred on a white, unadorned background so that other media do not overshadow the driftwood’s strength. The focus on the wood insists on direct acknowledgment of the ideas of aging and degeneration, processes our culture frequently avoids. In this way, Drift offers an homage to age; it marks a refusal to allow the elderly or the process of aging to drift away into obscurity. Harvey’s driftwood drawings celebrate growing old; the pieces are like the gifts her father gave her at the end of his life. 


About the Artist: 

Bettina Harvey’s art is deeply informed by her relationship with the natural world. From her earliest years, Harvey has devoted herself to the outdoors, exploring, studying, and playing in nature. After working on a BFA at Montreal’s Concordia University, she spent years working as a horticulturist and as a gardener for the City of Vancouver, where she applied her visual art skills designing floral displays for major parks. Eventually, she merged her interests, returning to fine arts as a means of investigating ecological systems and their connections to the human world. 

Harvey has studied lithography, figure drawing, and encaustic painting with several Vancouver artists. However, her most recent work examines the intersections between botany, ecology, and humanity. Working within a metaphorical paradigm, several of Harvey’s series use images of driftwood pieces to interrogate the human lifespan, and the ways in which our complicated journey through time involves struggles with memory, identity, relationships, and love. Her art has been featured in various exhibitions around the Lower Mainland, including the Seymour Art Gallery’s Discovery show, the Ferry Building Gallery, and Kafka’s on Main. Her work is held in several private collections across North America. 

Harvey lives with her husband and pets in Beach Grove, Tsawwassen, and frequently draws material from her explorations of the habitats around her home and near her mother’s home on Denman Island.  


Drift is generously sponsored by: