Fran is a retired Fine Arts professor (of over 20 years) from Vancouver Island University. She has a history of teaching students to put on shows and now she's created her own in memory of her father called, Dad's War.
The Dad's War Story (in Fran's words)
Years ago, my mother passed and it fell to me to sort out her belongings. It wasn't difficult until I found the archive my father left us from his time overseas in World War Two. As I looked at the documents and objects, I became aware of the feeling that so many people my age would be doing the exact same chore. I needed a way to share the trove with others and in doing so find some way to let go of the sadness that the materials produced. I wondered about the family members on the home front. They were the keepers of these archives. Their lives in war time were filtered through correspondence of including letters and images. Their losses were brought home to them through the written word or image, never experienced directly. As I worked through my archive I had so many questions that go unanswered because there is no one left to answer. Who was this man? Was he fried or foe? Why does this object or image exist? As an artist, I have given myself permission to experiment freely. At first, I felt guilty about altering and reworking the materials. Then I decided there was really no one in my family that would object. As my elderly mother once said to me,"Oh Fran, no one cares what you do with this stuff and there is no one left to remember." Well, I wasn't in the war but I remember their friend and relatives sharing letters, photos, and war memorabilia. My family value the archive but I can give it a new and different life.
In the end I think Dad's War and all it's components are about a kind of longing to make things right again. It is also about gratefulness and privilege. I am part of a group of people who did not have to go to war. My parents gave me the gift of understanding that I had potential and I could follow it where it led me.
Dad's War: the video
An important part of the art show was to engage with the local veteran community and their families. For a few months this spring Fran drove up and down Vancouver Island talking to folks and pouring over their collections and hearing stories.
What a gold mine of information! Fran could have spent years listening to all the astounding tales of adventure. She chose to limit her story search to legions in Shawnigan Lake, Ladysmith and Chemainus. Our vets are a fragile and timely resource and Fran hope this video conveys some of their amazing wealth of knowledge.
Dad's War Opens Soon!
Cowichan Valley Art Gallery
2687 James St., Duncan, B.C.
October 28 - November 10, 2019
Special Veteran's Reception Oct. 29th at 3pm