Sign posts – recent work inspired by cave art by Mary Bennett


Have you ever said, “Maybe it’s a sign…”? And then immediately thought,
“… but what does it mean?”
This series is inspired by the many signs and symbols that we encounter – just waiting for us to decide what, if anything, it means.
I began with the series of 8”x8” canvases most of which include letters, numbers or symbols of some sort or another.
The “SkyTrain” pieces started with a series of photos taken while sitting in the back seat —in the rain. There are lots of signs around when you’re on public transit. They have a mundane meaning of course but occasionally an image seems to have some significance for you in that moment.
The most recent pieces are inspired by the geometric signs found in caves in Europe. I heard a CBC NXNW interview with Genevieve von Petzinger who researched the 32 geometric signs found in cave art in Europe. I thought it was a sign! She’s the first to say: They are signs but we don’t know what they mean.
The feeling I wanted to evoke in the art is the surprise of being in a dark cave and then experiencing the excitement of seeing the signs. Her book The First Signs is very readable and interesting. I recommend it and her TED talk too.

Mary is a visual artist and community catalyst. When ideas, conversation and art come together, Mary is very happy indeed.
Mary uses “mixed-media” for her artwork. Asked recently what exactly mixed-media was, she replied, “You put anything on anything and that’s mixed-media.”
Usually she begins her pieces with collaged images, then builds up layers using acrylic paint, mediums and gels. These pieces include stencilled and stamped images and symbols. She usually works on a series, several pieces on the go at the same time and often in collaboration with other artists.
Past series include work inspired by birds’ nests; labyrinths and Darwin’s birthday.
Mary facilitates mixed-media workshops including a series of 3 sessions she calls, “A Playdate with Mary.” Her intention is to engage people who don’t think of themselves as artists, in playing with art materials and having fun doing it.
She’s the “artsy grandma” to Em and Lukas. Mary lives 3 blocks from the Naam and is a long-time Kits resident and cheerleader.