Exploring Contrast in Shayla Perrault's Work

Having exhibited numerous times, Shayla Perrault is not stranger to exposure. Notable shows include a collaboration at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden with 5x Platinum music Producer, Ian Widgery, the solo show “Trois” at the CBC Gallery Georges Goguen, which was televised across Canada and a group show at Owens Art Gallery, the oldest University Gallery in Canada.

In her art, Shayla examines contrasting ideologies like that of self-expression and self-repression, examining her environment and life experience through a spiritual lens and entombing what she discovers on canvas. 
 

You tell a story in your Artist’s Statement about a moment you felt will always be with you, that of the day you explored the marsh with your childhood best friend. Paintings so often tell stories, and convey feelings that are hard to put into words. Do you find that there are particular themes or stories that you are drawn to recreate with your paintings? 

The story about the marsh had to do with an experience of when time seems to stand still.Themes I keep coming back to are non-linear time and 'repression/expression'. This series started with a dark forest with a glimmer of light, almost cave-like in shape and ended with a volcano erupting. The figurative series I've just started also explores the opposite of repression.


Your partner is a creative, and you’ve done some collaborative work in the past. Does having a creative partner drive you to explore outside of your own comfort zone?

Yes. That can be technical like when I was figuring out how to get his vision for the art on his guitar into a design and medium that would work on that surface. Most of the time it's in the realm of ideas and lifestyle where we stretch our comfort zones. I didn't like the word "magic" when used to describe a spiritual practice and had a lot of misunderstandings about the Occult. Ulysses' explorations of esoteric subjects was always interesting, and while it's not always easy to leave that comfort zone, it was delightfully eccentric and ultimately inspiring. 


Keeping with the collaboration trend... Is there a local artist or designer you’d like to work with?

This idea hatched a week or two ago, and while I haven't even met her,  I've liked Jennifer Williams' photography for awhile. She helps people see how beautiful they are. There are a couple reasons I think it might be a good collaboration. The figurative series I'm doing involves non-professional models. I take their image and make it into a mixed media, sensual deity-type figure. While Jennifer does photography, most people would think of my work as a painting. I would like to make some of her photographs into mixed media paintings. 

Collaboration is so important to me, that I'd love to be around a regular roster of artists and designers. I've thought  about starting a 'Café des Artistes' or Artist Salon where a group meet once a month. Georges Goguen, founder of CBC Gallery and a great connector for artists ran a successful salon when I lived in New Brunswick that contributed to my formation. There would be an invited speaker who talks about their work. We share a meal, glass of wine, have a question period and an exchange of ideas. The easy part would be the event. I have experience with that. The challenge for me would be knowing enough local artists. A list of 50 would be perfect.


To date, which pieces are you most proud of, and why?

'Not the Doa' has such an energy in person. It's a strong piece and it never fails to recharge me.


What would be your dream project?

My dream is to have an art school retreat center with a focus on fun learning and easy wins. With coloring, art journals and scrapbooking, more people have been using art to relieve stress and improve their life quality. Those that want to learn more skills may be intimidated. Often they will say things like, "I can't draw a straight line" or "I'm not creative but I admire it" and there are ways for them to have easy wins that build their confidence without having to go through a lot of theory first. The first retreat version would be online and use video and there would be a physical location to follow. Have you heard of the Mandala Homes company from Nelson? They would make the perfect retreat center. 


What are the first things you look to for inspiration when starting a painting?

There's an impasto texture to lay down first and many thin layers in my paintings that follow. By the time I've got the first or second glaze of color on the canvas, usually the inspiration is there and I don't have to look for it. 


What is one thing in the home that makes you the happiest?

I have the books in my library organized by colors of the rainbow. It's not just that I find it a happy color combo, but it seems there are certain rules we're supposed to follow as adults.  Canadians seem to favor swampy neutral colors and while it can be elegant, I get bored with that.  Colors that are thought to clash-like pink and red- or that we're supposed to 'grow out of' like rainbows or pastels feel even more stimulating to me since it feels like I'm breaking the convention on self expression. 


What is one thing about Kabuni you are excited for?

I was impressed with how it's already a social hub, a place to connect. I also loved the way you've embraced technology for example with the 'virtual reality room', or at least that's what I'm calling it. It was like flipping through a catalogue, choosing pictures, and having a visual of the pieces show up pretty much to scale around the room to get an idea of how they may look together. 
 



Story: Sam Wink

Photography: Jennilee Marigomen

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