“Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.” –Bruce Feiler
Ever wondered why turtlart is turtlart? Sarah Hunter chose the symbol of the turtle for her art practice and art business when she first started her career as a professional artist in the late 1980’s. She chose the turtle partly because of the old saying from Aesops fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Sarah wanted to grow her art work and career slowly and with intention.
The symbol of the turtle is an ancient one and is one of the oldest symbols in art. In China the turtle was seen as a symbol of uniting heaven and earth. It was seen as an invitation for blessings from both the heavens and the earth.
Turtle is a symbol of mother earth in many Native traditions and the turtle was believed to carry the world on it’s back. This is how North America came to be known as turtle Island among many indigenous cultures. The turtle is also associated with fertility, women’s sexuality and creativity.
On this page: select turtle images from Sarah Hunter’s collection. Enjoy!!
The Mothers Comb is a triptych I did after my mother’s death two years ago. I think this series is a way of processing the relationship I did have with my mother, which really improved in the last few years of her life. She made a lot of amends to me at the end of her life and we were on good terms when she died. Prior to that time, we were not close and I always felt I wanted to get close to her but couldn’t somehow. She stayed a mysterious person to me most of my life, someone I wanted to be close to but it was very difficult for her to open up and share herself with me.
Working on these three pieces inspired by Shakespeare helped me to appreciate all the theatre my dad exposed me to as a child. We were often taken to shows at Stratford and my dad put on several Shakespeare plays at Hart House theatre when he worked there in the 1970’s. I am familiar with many of the quotes from various plays… but one of his favourite plays was the Twelfth Night. All the titles for these three works are taken from that play.
The films I watched that inspired these pieces were Shakespeare in Love, Romeo and Juliet by Zeffirelli, The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michaelangelo and Brideshead re-visited by Evalyn Waugh.
Diane Kingstone is a Kindergarten teacher who met Sarah in 1982, where they spent two years at The Institute of Child Studies in Toronto, getting their teaching qualifications.
How did you come to see Sarah’s artwork?
We quickly became friends, and shared a passion for stories and art and children! I can’t honestly remember exactly where or when I saw the two pieces of Sarah’s work that I purchased, but it was a long time ago and I know that the Three Dog Night piece was also something that Sarah and I gave as a wedding present for our dear friend Heather Gilman. I’m guessing that I purchased a print for myself around the same time, and I remember wishing that I was able to buy more of Sarah’s work because I loved so many of her prints. I think I purchased the second art piece some years afterwards, but I’m not sure how many years later. At any rate, for as long as I can remember the two pieces have been in my living room.
Can you describe your favourite part of the piece? What I especially love about both Four Dog Night, and Midnight Ramble, is the use of colour. I love their dynamic richness, and the way the colours contrast with each other. I also love the texture in both pieces…they almost look like pastel drawings in places. They give me the same kind of feeling I get when I I look at really powerful children’s paintings, Sarah’s work has the same kind of innate sense of colour and line that young children often have. I love the playfulness of both pieces, they make me smile, and I have never, ever tired of either. As I said earlier, my only regret is that, when other prints of Sarah’s were still available, I wasn’t able to purchase more of her work. I remember loving so many of her prints, but these are the two that resonated with me the most and I continue to get great joy from them as their warmth and vibrancy light up the walls of my living room.
“I had just moved back to what felt like a very grey Toronto. I had been invited to read a piece I had written for an event in a Gallery on Queen Street. I remember walking in and seeing Sarah’s piece, “These Boots” on the wall and feeling an immediate, electric connection with it. I had no money, I had just moved to town, but I absolutely had to have that piece of art in my life. It had a joy, vitality and clowny quality that resonated deeply and felt like a vitamin I needed to nourish me in my new winter home. As an added bonus, when I went to pick the piece up from Sarah’s studio, our brief conversation sparked a friendship that endures to this day.” -Elaine Smookler, Psychotherapist, teacher, writer, performer
It’s a small piece and I often look at it and smile. -Janet Forbes, Carpenter & Trades Person
Janet saw Sarah’s work for the first time at a Christmas craft sale at her yoga studio and was attracted to the pieces and also enjoyed talking with her. “I was attracted to the piece because it was fun and light-hearted,” says Janet Forbes about purchasing one of Sarah Hunters works adding, “bees were very much in the news because they were being killed by our use of insecticides and pesticides and I wanted to remind myself of how necessary and important they are to our world.”
I have 4 pieces of art by Sarah. I love them all – each of the creatures seem to have a personality of their own. It’s as tho they come to life as she paints them. -Jenny Knox
Having known Sarah for many years and first saw her artwork at her parent’s house. Today Jenny owns a set of paintings that she still loves, “I love Sarah’s series of whimsical forest creatures. I bought one of them because it exuded joy and I wanted that lovely energy in my home.”
Sally Rappeport is one of Sarah Hunter’s earliest patrons having acquired several pieces including [insert piece title]. As an acupuncture and herbalist, Sally currently lives in Brooklyn but the two met during university where she first saw her works hanging in Sarah’s apartment.
“The piece with the dogs is my favorite. It has such energy and passion.” -Sally Rappeport