Inspiration from Value Village

May 15, 2003, vol. 27, no. 2
By Susan Jamieson-McLarnon

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Artist Shamina Senaratne (left) wears a finely woven Indian shawl of silver and wool. Brand new, it still has its Value Village price tag of $12.

An exploratory visit to Value Village, fashion's almost-final resting place, may seem like an unusual starting point into research for a work of art.

But to Shamina Senaratne, program assistant, continuing studies' interdisciplinary program at Harbour Centre, it proved to be a gold mine of inspiration.

It marked the beginning of a cultural and artistic inquiry into cultural change in our community. The result is an evocative installation piece currently on display at the Pendulum Gallery at the HSBC, at Georgia and Hornby.

Her shopping trip produced three very different versions of traditional South Asian women's dress. There's a gold encrusted evening ensemble, a daytime outfit with embroidered flowers and puffed sleeves and, most unusual, a traditionally cut salwar kameez (a tunic and trouser outfit) made up in a somewhat woolly houndstooth check, much more suitable for a damp west coast climate. (She was saddened to find them all in the costume section.)

In her artist's statement, she says, “What can we suppose about living in Vancouver in 2003, from the things offered for sale at the local Value Village? What I present is an expression of my desire to catalogue for posterity, the experiences of immigrants to a changing Canada.”

The Tiger Returns exhibition runs until May 23 (closed Sunday). For more information see ahm.

As an artist, Senaratne has performed and shown her work in Toronto and Vancouver. A writer and poet, she is a member of the Seven Sisters writing group.

A SFU grad in communication and public history, her communication skills recently earned two awards for excellence (art direction and photography) from the B.C. chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

She worked with designer Wilson Nam of continuing studies program information (wearing his freelance hat) in creating a wide range of marketing materials for a new line of contemporary fine furniture - Frank Smith - designed and built by her husband, Francis Lemieux.

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