We all have heard the proverb that necessity is the mother of invention. This quote has often been associated with what Plato wrote in The Republic. What Plato really wrote was something closer to “our need will be the real creator.” This phrase more accurately reflects a life-changing time in Lynn Dooly Marek’s life when, as a starving art student in a foreign land, she had to get creative in more ways than one.
Born in Montreal, raised in England and spending summers in Athens, Greece with her ambassador grandfather, Dooly Marek adopted a cosmopolitan spirit at a young age. She began her art education at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont. Yet, it seems it was when she spent, to borrow the title of Peter Mayle’s book, A Year in Provence, that made the most lasting impression on her. “To paint in Provence is to change an artist forever,” she says.
Dooly-Marek recalls the “need” that was the creator of her series of paintings now gracing the walls of the Joyner Gallery of the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre for her upcoming exhibition, opening on Wednesday, Aug. 4th. This “need” was not bound up in an existential wakening. It was not fueled by the desire to create a series of paintings to express an underlying need to evoke a reaction in the viewers or to celebrate the beauty in nature or life. No, at the time, Dooly Marek was motivated by a need that was much more simplistic. She needed to eat.
She had recently moved to Aix-en-Provence to study fine art at the École des Beaux-Arts, and lived in a small apartment with a shared bathroom above a bakery. “Every morning, with the bakery heat rising, you get the smell coming up, and it was absolutely wonderful,” she recalls wistfully.
As a young person making her way in the world, Dooly Marek found herself short of funds. She had a bank account and cheques from her parents, but made the mistake of misjudging her financial worth, regrettably on a Friday afternoon, with “pas d’argent,” no money and no ability to receive funds until Monday morning. Dooly Marek had to get creative, figuratively and literally.
“So I went to one of the top cafes in Aix-en-Provence. It’s called Les Deux Garcons, and I said if I do a painting of your cafe will you pay me 20 francs? I mean it was pittance but I was a student. They said ‘oui’, so I did it right there on the Saturday. They gave me my money and that’s where it all began,” she explained.
Finding she had time on her hands in between her classes, Dooly Marek began drawing and painting around Aix-en-Provence more regularly. At first, she was hesitant to sketch out in the open. “I went to the flower marche nearby and I sat behind a pot with flowers so nobody would see me do a drawing. I sat there with all my stuff and I did this very simple sketch. I didn’t even know how to paint properly.” Eventually she returned to Canada and submitted some of her drawings to the Reader’s Digest in Montreal. She recalls the art director took one look at this simple drawing she made from behind a flower pot and exclaimed, “where have you been all my life!” This drawing was displayed on the back of the cover of October, 1986 edition. Since then, she has continued to illustrate and paint cafes, bistros and markets across Europe and Canada.
Her works are on display in the Salon des Beaux Arts at the Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France, as well as in private and public collections around the world, including in the office of the mayor of Toronto. She has received the order of la Société Académique Arts-Sciences-Lettres, an old academic/arts society in France dedicated to the education and encouragement of the arts and sciences, and currently teaches figure/life drawing to the animation students at Durham College.
“At a time when everyone yearns to connect, images of cafes and markets will transport the viewer back to a simpler way of life. The subjects of Lynn Dooly-Marek’s mixed media artworks – be it a figure, street scene or landscape – express a feeling of relaxation and health, and a slow pace of life that keep the observer grounded,” says the Pumphouse website about the upcoming exhibit.
Dooly Marek is pleased to be able to display her work at the Pumphouse, after being approached by staff to see if she was interested in staging an exhibit after they saw her work at an art show in Toronto. She is enthusiastic about the Pumphouse and its work, and adds, “Niagara-on-the-Lake is a gem!”
As is Lynn Dooly Marek!
To learn more about this international award-winning artist and her work visit: www.lynndoolymarek.com. Her exhibition, Bistros & Marchés of the World…where it all began! will run from Aug. 4 to 29. The opening reception will be held Aug. 8. For more information please visit https://niagarapumphouse.ca/ or call 905-468-5455.