September 28, 2021Capturing Kelowna's Heritage Homes in Watercolour: Guest Blog from Irina Bakumenko

My name is Irina Bakumenko. I am a Kelowna-based watercolour artist who recently moved from Russia. I had the privilege of participating in an art exhibition at the Rotary Centre for the Arts from May to September, 2021. 

It was an honour to display my fifteen watercolour paintings in an exhibit titled Heritage Homes of Kelowna. When I paint, I take inspiration from the unique architecture I experience in cities across the world: ancient buildings and castles, colonial-style houses, household utensils, and furniture, bridges and streets. My exhibit featured paintings of Kelowna's Heritage Homes and falls into a larger body of my architecture-based work.

I spent time looking into the history of Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley before I started to paint the works. I found out that settlement in the Okanagan Valley began over 6000 years ago with the Syilx/Okanagan people who thrived on hunting, fishing, gathering, and trading. The first European settlement took place in 1859 by three Oblate missionaries. Father Pandosy, Father Richard, and Brother Surel set up a mission for the area's native peoples, as well as for its new traders and settlers. But the first streets and houses emerged when small business owners discovered the growing opportunities in Kelowna, the heart of the Okanagan Valley. When I was looking at homes, I saw a wonderful variety of styles that reflect 150 years of living in Kelowna. 

I appreciate the people from several generations who kept those houses so we can see them today. With that in mind, when I paint pictures of homes, I reflect on the owner, the holidays and dinners in the house, the birth of children and their growing up, friendly gatherings and parties. When I moved to the Okanagan, I was impressed with the interesting styles and beauty of the old houses. 

I must say, for me to participate in the exhibition at the Rotary Centre for the Arts was not only an opportunity to display my work, but also a learning experience and a chance to meet new people. I am thankful for the professional help from the Community and Educational Programming Specialist, Andrew Stauffer, throughout the exhibition.

The light in the RCA Atrium was excellent for the display of my works. There were fifteen locations equipped with chains and hooks on walls and columns that made the process of installation very easy. 

The Marketing and Communications Coordinator shared information about my exhibition on the RCA's Instagram and website regularly. It was a pleasure when my paintings and I were introduced for guests every Thursday during the Jazz Jam concert in the Atrium. 

I want to thank the RCA and the wonderful staff for their continued support of artists in the Okanagan, and especially for their support of me as a new comer to Canada and Kelowna. As a result of the support of the RCA, I have been able to continue to paint heritage homes in Kelowna and also the cityscape where we live. 

Capturing Kelowna's Heritage Homes in Watercolour: Guest Blog from Irina Bakumenko