Shelley Vanderbyl: Ashes for Medicine

Shelley Vanderbyl
Ashes for Medicine

October 23, 2023 – January 11, 2024
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 2, 5 – 7 pm
Illustrated Artist Talk (via Zoom): Thursday, November 16, 7:30 pm ET
Redeemer Art Gallery, Ancaster

Shelley Vanderbyl’s conceptually rich paintings are concerned with healing. This exhibition – her first solo exhibition since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer – works metaphorically with her experience as a cancer patient, her husband’s military Search and Rescue experience, and remembered biblical passages of comfort. The effect, she hopes, is to gently point viewers toward emotional healing.

From her tiny oil paintings in vintage medicine tins, to highly textured large-scale plaster frescoes, onto video performance pieces, she leads the viewer through a quiet, complex journey of finding beauty amidst pain. By paying attention to the small and the broken, Shelley aims to create a therapeutic experience for the viewer.

Vanderbyl reflects:

The debris that results from my fresco process is something that I’ve always gathered, and it’s only recently occurred to me how much it resembles ash. For this first exhibition since cancer treatment, as I re embark on my explorations again, rested and healthy, I feel the impulse to gather these fragments, to claim them, and to turn them into medicine. In the exhibition these “ashes” co-exist with refining fires, signal fires, and the tiny oil paintings in vintage medicine tins that are meant to sustain those still “walking through the fire”.

About the Artist

Shelley Vanderbyl is an artist who lives a nomadic life across Canada as a military wife. Her artwork provides an immersive therapeutic experience within public galleries, clinics and homes, and is meant to create a beautiful, thoughtful space for the viewer to process difficult circumstances more easily. Her medicine tins are part of the Stockholm public art collection (New Karolinska hospital), the Västra Götalands Regional Art Collection, and the Jönköpings Iän Regional Art Collection for use in hospitals. Her fresco work also hangs in clinics and public collections in Canada such as in Winnipeg’s Buhler Gallery collection (St. Boniface Hospital). She has attended three international residencies. Her work has been featured in over 18 publications around the globe. Particularly interested in aiding people with post traumatic stress disorder, Shelley asks the question, “If what someone has seen can break a person, can an image be a part of their healing?”

Curator: Phil Irish

Media Contact: Shannon McBride
Phone: 1-877-779-0913 x 4326

Gallery Hours:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 7 pm
Sundays: Closed.

Redeemer Art Gallery
Redeemer University
Founders Hall
777 Garner Road East
Ancaster ON L9K 1J4