Kimberley Cranbrook Branch Design Contest Winner Jen Johnston on Living with Nature

Wildsight Kimberley Cranbrook is proud to announce the winner of our artist design contest: Jennifer Johnston! Jen’s vision of vibrant, sustainable communities was beautifully captured in her design: weaving plant forms and pollinators together with our charismatic neighbour, the black bear. Jen offers her thoughts here on art, community and living (and growing) with nature.

Artist and Kimberley local Jen Johnston with her winning design.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Ontario and from my earliest years, I always knew I wanted to live and grow in a mountain community. I’ve been fortunate to know what I needed to be doing from a young age, and chose my path with ease. I chose a career (massage therapy) that would allow me to move around the world and explore new places. I spent most of my adult years moving and traveling, before putting down roots in Kimberley 5 years ago.

When and why did you start making art?

I started dabbling in art as a child and have continued exploring new ways of expressing my ideas on paper, with various mediums. My first art piece that I remember doing was of our family dog that had died; I was 10 years old. I realized then that art was a significant outlet for releasing and letting go.

What led you to the Kimberley-Cranbrook area and what keeps you here? 

Well, the first time I checked out Cranbrook was when I hopped a train here from Nelson. I was 25 years old and relishing in my wild gypsy heart. Nine years later, my husband’s job brought us to Kimberley. Something inside kept telling me this was a place to put down roots and be patient, and I’m sure glad I listened. It’s been a great pleasure watching this community flourish with such grace.

About your beautiful bear design: what does this represent for you?

I wanted to capture the inter-connectivity of our local landscapes. In the design, I tried to show how all creatures in nature are both reliant on, and a part of, the same source. We all come from a seed and need food, air and nourishment to sustain life… and of course love.

Wildsight Kimberley Cranbrook envisions and works to support vibrant and sustainable communities. How do you think we’re excelling as a community and where do we have to grow?

The presence of Wildsight in our communities has inspired both forward-thinkers and doers with fresh and sustainable ideas, which is evident in both Cranbrook and Kimberley. Wildsight not only inspires growing gardens, but food for thought. I’m always thrilled to hear what films and talks Wildsight is showing. Bravo!

Where else can we find your artwork?

I just took part in an art show at Center 64 titled Raw Material with 9 other women. At this time, I’m continuing to explore new opportunities to display my art in various ways. Stay tuned for more!

Catch Jen Johnston’s work at Centre 64’s Raw Material “Elementally Female” gallery exhibition before July 29th, or on our soon-to-be-released branch T-shirt. When she isn’t moonlighting as an artist or hosting concerts in her home, Jen is the owner of Purcell Wellness Registered Massage Therapy.