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Sheila Norgate

Sheila Norgate

Sheila Norgate was born in 1950 in the heart of downtown Toronto in the back seat of her uncle's late model Buick. Like most girls of her vintage, she was herded towards all things domestic, and save for an incident in grade eleven when she convinced authorities to allow her to drop home economics in favour of commercial design, she displayed no particular aptitude towards the arts. After high school Norgate drifted with the rest of her grad class flotsam into University where she learned how to smoke a pipe and protest social injustice. Two years later and still not actually qualified to do anything, she assumed an entry level position with a major bank and before you could say "accidental and bland career" one such thing yawned open before her. She soon crossed the country by train and settled on the West Coast.

By 1983 the unlived life was nipping at her heels like a badly behaved poodle and Norgate was forced to take a leave from banking to recover from major abdominal surgery. While recuperating she bought herself a set of cheap watercolors and embarked on a course of serious dabbling. In those small hard tablets of pigment, she began to locate a voice, her voice. She enrolled in a local art school but dropped out after only a brief stint, convinced that she needed to find her own way. Since then she has done just that.

Artist Statement

"I had no intention of becoming an artist. There was no childhood dream, no revelationary moment, no intuitive flash, and no channeling of Emily Carr. It was more that the specter of art-making appeared before me as an inflatable raft to a drowning woman and I hauled myself onto it as a way to save my life. I needed to see myself and know myself. Not surprisingly, I am virtually self-taught.

I work primarily in acrylic paint on canvas. I love this medium. I love how it forgives and forgets, how it lets me put it wherever I want, how it dries fast when I am impatient to move on. I work fairly energetically, not wanting to prune back any impulse that arises. I spend a lot of time getting out of my own way. This is not as easy as you’d think.

The text that always appears in my work is vitally important to me. Painting without text would be like Ginger Rogers dancing without Fred Astaire. It would be show and tell without the tell. They just go together. I can’t seem to help myself. Maybe there’s a 12 step group for that.

Over the years there have been what you would call recurring motifs appearing in my work. Hearts and birds have pretty much been there all along, but the dogs are a more recent addition. I’d love to be able to attribute this to some more exotic phenomena, but truth be told, it is a simple case of art imitating life. My partner and I adopted a small maltese-poodle cross in 2001 and life has never been the same. An even more recent interest is horses. So far only one has ventured into a painting of mine, but I feel them standing around the edges of my peripheral vision. Snorting and waiting.

I would describe the practice of making art as requiring a mix of rapt dedication and raw conviction. It is one of the purest acts of faith I know about. World events of recent years have made it difficult at times for me to sustain such self-directed and singular focus and yet in my heart I believe that it is through this re-visiting of ourselves over and over again in the creative process, that we make a small stitch in the weave of our shared humanity. I try to remember that birds begin their song each day in darkness, gently spreading a tapestry of faith across the land.

Sheila Norgate

2002 Calona Wines Artist Series Label Collection, Vancouver, BC
1998 Shortlisted for VanCity Book Prize("Storm Clouds Over Party Shoes"), Vancouver
1998 Best Books of 1997, Quill and Quire, February 1998

Alberta Futurewest, Calga, AB
Arbutus Society for Children, Victoria, BC
BC Women’s Hospital, Vancouver, BC
Battered Women’s Support Services, Vancouver BC
Fairmont Hotels, Toron, ON
Genesis Oil and Gas, Calga, AB
J.J. Barnicke, Calga, AB
McLeod & Company, Calga, AB
TWC Corporation, Calga, AB
Marquis Wine Cellars, Vancouver, BC
Pacific Coast Savings Credit Union, Victoria, BC
Women’s Monument Project, Vancouver, BC
Utilicorp, Calga, AB
Westin Hotels, Whistl, BC
A Lovin’ Spoonful, Vancouv, BC

2010 3 Squared, Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
2005 Wallace Gallery, Calgary, AB
2004 Atelier Gallery, Vancouver, BC
2004 Ingram Gallery, Toronto, ON
2004 Agnes Bulgera Gallery, Edmonton, AB
2003 G"Simply Trees", Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
2003 Art Gallery of Victoria (Art Rental), Victoria BC
2002 Atelier Gallery, Vancouver BC
2002 Ingram Gallery, Toronto Ontario
2002 Artworks, Gabriola Island BC
2002 Agnes Bugera Gallery, Edmonton Alberta
2001 "Island Girls" Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
2001 Bugera/Kmet Gallery, Edmonton, AB
2001 Ingram Gallery, Toronto, ON
2001 Wallace Gallery, Calgary, AB
2000 Artworks, Vancouver, BC
2000 Atelier Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1999 Fran Willis Gallery, Victoria, BC
1999 Atelier Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1998 "House of Mirrors," Round House Community Centre, Vancouver, BC
1998 "Selfish Slaves of Zines and Animation," A Space, Toronto, ON
1998 "After Her Own Heart," Diana Paul Gallery, Calgary, AB
1998 Martin Bachelor Gallery, Victoria, BC
1997 Scott Gallery, Edmonton, AB
1997 Horizon/Laverty Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1997 4th International Conference of the Visual Arts Council Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1997 Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC
1997 Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1996 "50 Years: 50 Objects," Community Arts Council, Vancouver, BC
1995 Community Arts Council Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1995 Barton Leier Gallery, Victoria, BC
1994 Barton Leier Gallery, Victoria, BC
1994 The Doctor Viagri Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1994 "Work in Progress", Window Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1992 Barton Leier Gallery, Victoria, BC
1991 - 92 Bridge Street Gallery, Vancouver, BC
1991 Nunavut Gallery, Vancouver, BC

1988 "Gallery Opens Fittingly with Upbeat Hearts and Flowers" Victoria Times Colonist
1988 'Backroom Gallery Moves Uptown", Business Report, Victoria
1989 "Sheila Norgate...Art from the Heart" Focus on Women, Victoria
1989 'Sheila Norgate Recent Work" La Rosa, Victoria
1989 'Sheila Norgate', Gallerie Women's Art, Vancouver
1990 "Just for Laughs" Victoria Boulevard Magazine
1990 "Psychic Frostbite Thaws into Splendor' Victoria Times Colonist
1991 "Wearable Art" Victoria Times Colomist
1992 "Art Show Rocks Boat"  Kinesis
1992 "Robert Amos on Art" Victoria Times Colonist
1993 "Coast Defies Purists" Vancouver Xtra West
1993 "Robert Amos on Art" Victoria Times Colonist
1993 "Show Explores Women's Issues Through Art", Douglas College News
1993 'Women Speak Thru Art', Royal City Record/Now
1994 "Wit and Wisdom at Forefront of Exhibitions", Paula Gustofson, Xtra  West
1995 'Divergent Looks at Discrimination and Oppression', Robin Laurence, Vancouver Sun

1997 'Etiquette Nasty', The Vancouver Sun
1997 Norgate, Sheila. "Storm Clouds Over Party Shoes: Etiquette Problems for the Ill-Bred Woman," Press Gang
1997 'Nostalgia Under Relentless Gaze', Paula Gustofson, XTra West
1997 'Storm Clouds Over Party Shoes', Kathleen Hickey, Georgia Straight
1997 'The Lady is a Tramp', Quill & Quire
1998 'Her Heart Held a Party', Kinesis
1998 'New and Noted',  Globe and Mail
1998 'Nice Girls Might want to skip this Rule Book', Edmonton Free Press
1998 'Tweaking Your Funny Bone', Xtra West
1999 'The Studio of Sheila Norgate', Gabriola Sounder
2000 'Painting from the Inside Out', Nanaimo Daily News, Nanaimo BC
2000 'Sheila Norgate: each with a story', Preview Magazine, Vancouver
2000 'Visual Literacy', Venue Magazine, Vancouver Island
2001 'The Art of Living', Nanaimo News Bulletin, Nanaimo BC
2002 'Portrait of an artist', Mo magazine, Nanaimo BC
2006 Galleries West
Canada House Gallery
201 Bear Street
po box 1570
Banff AB
T1L 1B5