Kristin Krimmel created a series of paintings and drawings featuring barns – mainly from her backyard in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area. (Special to Black Press)

Fascination with farmland motivates new art exhibition in Fort Langley

Maple Ridge artist Kristin Krimmel opens a new exhibit, The Barn Project, at Fort Gallery Wednesday.

As a resident on the north side of the Fraser River, artist Kristin Krimmel fell in love with landscape – and in particular the farmlands – surrounding her in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“Eleven years ago, when I moved to Maple Ridge, I immediately felt soothed by the landscape of rolling farmlands nestled up against the dikes of the Alouette River,” Krimmel said.

“I was especially attracted to the barns along this route and eventually took every opportunity to photograph them, even going into the side roads, not having the slightest idea what I would do with these images.”

In the intervening time, she kept asking herself where the fascination came from.

Was it that her grandfather had come from farmland in Friesland (Netherlands) and had farmed in northern Manitoba? Perhaps.

“Or was it that farm and rural land is being absorbed by the ever-growing pressures of the mega-city? And what was I going to portray?” she asked herself.

“Could it simply be the way light played on the barns, morning, noon and night, changing the geometry architecture, emblazoning the surface and deepening the shadows?”

When she decided her next series of work would be about barns, she went about exploring them through drawing in a realistic way to get more intimately familiar with them.

“I started with larger graphite drawings, but then found I was too eager and in a hurry of excitement to draw more, so I adopted an 8 x 10 format,” she said.

“I am an intuitive artist. Often I begin working without knowing the direction my work will take. I like to experiment with materials and forms. As I delve into the exploration, I find that the subject dictates a method to me and I am sensitive to the changes which suggest themselves as I work. I can’t help but thinking that the built structure is a visitor in the enduring landscape, even though the land has been wrought into a different format by man,” Krimmel said.

This series of barns comes mainly from the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area. Some of them she photographed so long ago, she can’t remember where they were.

“Now, when I know the address, I write it down,” she interjected.

“It seems a pity to me that some barns are being modified into housing and some are being torn down. That natural disintegration of a structure, which is no longer maintained can provide some interesting visual modifications to the original.”

She discovered what she called similarities between local barns.

But more surprising for her, she noted how the generations of family farmers have modified, added to, kept up or let go. It makes each barn a portrait of the needs of that particular farm’s activities and its intervention in the cultivated landscape, Krimmel concluded.

“I am only part way on this journey. The paintings and graphite drawings are only the first outpouring of my ideas on the cultivated landscape of this area in which I live,” she said.

But that first chapter, if you will, is coming to life on the walls of the Fort Gallery in an exhibition opening this week.

The Barn Project exhibit opened Wednesday, April 4 at the Fort Langley art studio, and remains up until April 29. There’s a special artist’s reception this Sunday, April 8, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The show by this internationally shown contemporary artist features 12 graphite drawings and several acrylic paintings.

The Fort Gallery is located at 9048 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley.

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