Monday, July 16, 2012

The Big Ones - Part Five

In October 1996, Bill and I had the good fortune of trekking, with 17 others, in the Khumbu region, Nepal.  We were "support hikers" for a Canadian climbing team making a bid for the summit of Mount Ama Dablam (elevation 22,494 feet). After assembling in Kathmandu and a short helicopter flight to Lukla we began a 12 day trek on the Everest trail; Ama Dablam's base camp our destination.

After such a rich cultural experience and seeing the magnificence of the Himalayas, I was eager to paint my impressions. For the month of February 1997, Bill and I had a residency at the live-in the Gushul Studio, in Blairmore, Alberta, a former photographer's studio now administered by the University of Lethbridge. There I created the work for our first exhibition together - The Alice & Bill Show.  

PRAYER FIRES   oil 3.5 x 4.5 feet   completed February 11th, 1997   Collection of Laura Koebel, Canmore

Beside us at base camp (elevation 15,100 feet) there were groups from Holland, Austria, Britain and Ecuador; each focused on their turn to attempt the summit.  There didn't appear to be any interaction between the teams. On the morning which I depicted in Prayer Fires our Canadians were the first team on the mountain making for the summit.  Folks in all camps were diligently tending fires. Unaware of the tradition, I queried our lead Sherpa who explained that the fires carry prayers of safety to the climbers; I was so impacted I burst into tears. This painting may have sold countless times but it was one I insisted on keeping ... until Laura signed on with Adam as co-owner of their Canmore home.

AMA DABLAM    oil 3.5 x 4.5 feet   completed February 18th, 1997   Collection of John McIsaac and Cathy Ann David

Ama means mother and Dablam (the snowy bulge just below the summit - a hanging glacier) means charm box; the ornament Sherpa women wear around their necks. I painted the stand alone mountain as I first saw it with her glorious, sweeping arms dripping in brilliant, lacy snow and ice patterns against a crystal clear blue sky.

After the trek, we spent a week resting in Bali.  Our joint show featured Bill's photographs, my artwork plus artifacts we'd collected from both places. We were thrilled with how well the show displayed in the then new gallery space which the Canmore Artists and Artisans still maintain at the Canmore Public Library.

THE ALICE and BILL SHOW; Impressions of Nepal and Bali, at the CAAG Gallery March 14th to 23rd, 1997
Speaking at the opening reception, March 14th

Our hearts swelled at the response from the community, our trekker pals who traveled from afar and the support of friends who turned out for the opening and the show throughout it's duration.

Husband and wife climbers, whom we never did see on the mountain because they were at advance camps, honoured me when they purchased three of the paintings from the show including ...

AMA DABLAM installed at Cathy Ann's and John's home, March 31st, 1997.
Snaps shots from the trek

October 7th, 1996, hiking in a skirt along side a mani stone wall on the Kunde trail. Mount Tramserku

October 10th, me and Bill with yaks at base camp. Mount Taboche


  1. It was a wonderful show, Alice, and I so love the story behind Prayer Fires. It reminds me of a phrase one of my life teachers repeated often - 'Be glad in your heart, for you never know who may be praying for your joy.'

    1. I was pretty sure you'd attended, Win. Interesting that we may not know who is praying for us! Key here, for me, is BE GLAD IN YOUR HEART! xox