How the nation’s capital inspired this young Toronto artist
Happy memories of shared adventures swam through Tammy Chan’s head as she leafed through her family photo album.
Arriving at a picture of Canada’s parliament buildings, the 22-year-old artist, who received a bachelor’s degree in design in illustration from the Ontario College of Art and Design last year, recalled the scene.
“I had just emerged on the balcony at the back of the Canadian Museum of History. I was 13 and amazed at the beauty before me, the mixture of architecture and nature,” she says.
Chan was on a bus tour with her parents and three sisters. It was the first time they had set foot in the nation’s capital. The tour, which also included Montreal and Quebec City, remains indelibly imprinted in her mind.
“This was a memory of the excitement and anticipation in getting to experience something outside our usual environment,” she says.
Inspired to interpret the photo artistically, Chan didn’t originally intend the figures to represent herself and one of her sisters. But, as she worked on it, adding experimental wet brush strokes and delicately drawn ink textures, she felt symbolically connected to the girls. “I can imagine myself as one of them. They carry my personal feelings of togetherness and nostalgia.”
Chan works in mixed media, a combination of gouache, acrylics, ink and crayon. She likes to illustrate in flat colours, using textured details to bring the shapes alive. Her creative process often starts with photos of mundane subjects that ignite a spark or an idea compositionally, or with a colour schematic.
“By doing this, I often find myself working with subjects that I can connect with,” she explains.
Thinking back on her family’s trip to Ottawa, Chan admits the memory stirred a feeling of tenderness which she wanted to convey in her art.
“My work reflects parts of myself. This illustrative painting subtly portrays my idea of warmth and the reminiscent memories locked within us,” she explains. “I share my emotions with the characters I’ve painted.”
The trip took the family the furthest they had ever been from their home in Stouffville, Ont.
“We are a first-generation family. My parents are from China and were always busy with work. Plus, my siblings and I had extracurricular classes that disrupted any previous trip planning. This tour was the first time my parents had seen the Parliament Buildings in their two decades spent in Canada. We shared that special moment together,” recalls Chan.
She would like to return to the city to explore its heritage sites museums in greater depth and at her own pace. “I also want to visit Jacques-Cartier Park and ride down the Rideau Canal on a boat tour,” she says. As well as Ottawa, she is itching to see Nova Scotia, British Columbia and return to Quebec City to see the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
‘This tour was the first time my parents had seen the Parliament Buildings. We shared that special moment together.’— Tammy Chan
Chan is not alone in her desire to start exploring Canada again.
“A recent CIBC poll has suggested 60 per cent of Canadians can’t wait to travel again. One of the key things that we’re hearing from clients is that they’re looking to travel domestically. Our country has so many wonders to discover from coast to coast,” notes Andrew Wakefield, CIBC’s Director of Aventura Product Management.
The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card is helping people reconnect with memorable destinations and discover areas of Canada they’ve always wanted to visit, with discount offers for card holders on hotel stays, car rentals, RV rentals, winery tours, and other escapes.
There is also 50 per cent off on gas gift cards with partners Pioneer, Ultramar and Chevron, and the card comes with a Priority Pass membership and four complimentary airport lounge entries per year.
“Travelling domestically is a chance to reconnect with your country, rediscover values and experience places you’ve long forgotten or find new places entirely.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with CIBC. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved