Jarnail Singh speaking with a visitor about his work during the opening for his exhibit in the George Mackie Library on Sept. 22, 2018. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Jarnail Singh speaking with a visitor about his work during the opening for his exhibit in the George Mackie Library on Sept. 22, 2018. (Grace Kennedy photo)

North Delta library featuring local artist in new exhibit

Internationally-renowned artist Jarnail Singh will have his art on display until Nov. 22

The George Mackie Library celebrated the opening of its first art exhibit this weekend with a show of Surrey artist Jarnail Singh’s paintings.

Singh, an internationally renowned artist born in Punjab, India, became involved with the project during a conversation with community librarian Minakshi Sidhu at one of the library’s poetry nights for Punjabi writers.

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For Singh, the project was an ideal opportunity for artists in Surrey and Delta, who often lack the space to showcase their work. And, he added, it provides an opportunity for the community to share culture through art.

“Art, literature, they are important,” he said. “There’s the saying, that man doesn’t live by bread alone.”

“We are in this multi-cultural society,” he continued. “Painters like me, we create bridges between communities. People know about each other’s cultures, customs and traditions. So I think that goes a long way in building a cohesive community.”

An artist since he was a child, Singh grew up under his father’s tutelage in India. But while his father’s focus was scenes from Sikh history, Singh looked to a different source of inspiration.

“My work is mostly about the social [and] cultural history of Punjabi people,” he said, “how they used to live; their lifestyles and customs and traditions.”

“Life is changing very fast,” he continued. “Our old lifestyle, it’s changing. So I just wanted to record our old lifestyle and customs and tradition of Punjabi people for the coming generations.”

And following the unveiling on Saturday, Sept. 22, some of these scenes Singh has captured are now on display on the walls of the library.

One painting shows two elderly woman in deep meditation with their prayer wheels at a monastery in Northern India; another shows a group of women sitting at home, sharing embroidery and gossip.

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Since moving to British Columbia just under 20 years ago, Singh’s art has taken on a new subject: nature.

“I liked the natural beauty and landscape of B.C.,” he said. “It really turned by heart.”

This is also represented in his selections at the library, with paintings of mountain vistas and autumn trees.

Although Singh’s work is the first to be showcased in the library, he certainly won’t be the only artist. Sidhu said the library already has three more artists lined up to share their talent after Singh’s showcase wraps up on Nov. 22.

And while the project isn’t the first time artists have been showcased in Delta libraries, it is the first time that the Mackie Library has hosted something like it.

“It’s something we wanted to do for a while,” Delta libraries manager Sandi Burgess said about the art show. “The opportunity presented itself when we rearranged the collections. Then really the motivation was to put some more permanent tables [against the back wall] … Then we looked at the wall and we thought, wow, a great space for an exhibit.”

Submissions for the Art@theLibrary exhibit space will be accepted throughout the year. Works in two-dimensional media such as paintings, drawings or photography will be considered, however the space cannot accommodate sculptures.

Selected artists will be granted a two-month showing, with preference given to exhibitors who live or work in Delta and artists who have not displayed recently at other Delta libraries.

The next available opening for local artists to showcase their work is June 2019.

Interested artists can contact community librarian Minakshi Sidhu at 604-594-8155 ext. 225 for more information or to submit samples of their work for consideration.


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