Landscapes of a Lifetime opened Thursday in the Rustad Galleria at Two Rivers Gallery with a reception and artist’s talk. The exhibition of works by artist Elizabeth Miller evokes memories of her childhood war time experiences through landscapes based on her own photographs.
“I hope all who see my paintings will enjoy the beauty of the different landscapes that I have endeavoured to portray and relate to the spiritual values that have underlain my desire to paint them,” Miller said. “These values were developed during my early childhood in the south of England. I grew up in the beautiful countryside only 20 miles south of London while the fighting and devastation of the Second World War raged all around us.”
As a very small child, Miller said she was always aware of the insecurity of their lives and heard daily of the terrible loss of life caused by the enemy bombers and rockets which flew directly over her home every day and night.
“I was always expecting that our house would be hit and we would be killed too,” she said. “I vividly remember watching with horror the red glow from the incendiary bombs dropped on the London Docks. Food was scarce and I was always hungry although I was not fully aware of the problems faced by my parents and other adults.”
Long before war ended, the artist said she’d found personal peace.
“I turned to the relative peace of the countryside as a solace from the horrors of wartime while my parents turned to religion. It was a simpler time when each person was grateful for surviving another day, and there was a pervasive feeling throughout the land that we would eventually prevail and enjoy peace and a better future.
“In spite of acute loneliness caused by a lack of playmates as a child and the pre-occupations of my elders or maybe because of this I developed a passionate love of nature and the idyllic surroundings which became my playground. From an early age I was given total freedom to explore and roam far and wide in the hills, woods and fields always with my fiercely protective little dog at my side.
“One early memory is of stumbling upon a patch of beautiful mosses and fungi, just as a shaft of brilliant sunlight shone on them. Immediately my five-year-old imagination populated this scene with fairy princes and princesses. Another vivid memory is of the incredible beauty of trees covered in hoar frost, whose every twig was sparkling like diamonds in the sun.”
Her parents encouraged a love of nature, she said.
“This love of nature and a passion for growing things has stayed with me all my life. I inherited a talent for drawing and painting from my maternal grandfather who was a talented self taught artist and great naturalist and an interest in design from my very artistic mother. These interests were developed by my early art school training and years of later study.”
Landscapes of a Lifetime by Elizabeth Miller will be on display at the Rustad Galleria from August 7 to Sept. 1 during regular gallery hours.