Ruckle painting finds permanent library home

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Another painting from the pioneering Ruckle family has found its way home to Salt Spring and will take its place in the heart of the community for viewing thanks to an off-island donation.

Holly Gordon of Campbell River was behind a recent gift to the Salt Spring Arts Council, donating a beautiful island landscape by Gwen Ruckle. The arts council has in turn passed the work over to the Salt Spring Public Library, where it will be on permanent display.

The connection is a nice continuation of an ongoing partnership between the two groups, and of a recent exploration of the island’s historic women artists by visiting curator-in-residence Reagan Shrumm, which they each helped to promote.

Mary Gwendolyn “Gwen” Ruckle was born Nov. 1, 1931 and died in May 2006.

“The library is very grateful and excited to receive this Gwen Ruckle painting from the Salt Spring Arts Council as there has been a lot of interest in historical women painters since the arts council’s artists in residence  program and exhibit Forgotten Women Artists of Salt Spring in February,” said head librarian Karen Hudson. “The painting will be displayed behind the main desk at the library in clear view for the community to see.”

“As a result of the show in February, I think these women are forgotten no more,” added arts council administrator Yael Wand. “Having their work in a public venue where we can all appreciate it is, I think, a great result of having that show here.”

Wand said information from the donor is that she received the painting from her mother. Both of Gordon’s grandfathers, as well as other family members, lived and are buried on Salt Spring. 

“One grandfather was ‘the original’ baker, and his last name was Baker. The other grandfather helped build the United Church, which is now gone. Her aunt Frida Baker is also buried on island. Given the family connection, Holly felt that the painting needed to find a home back on the island,” Wand said.

Salt Spring received another painting — this one by Ruckle’s aunt Agnes Ruckle — from a donor in New Zealand by way of Alberta last year. That work can be seen at the Bittancourt House Museum on the Farmers’ Institute grounds. Agnes Ruckle was also part of the Forgotten Women Artists show.

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