Sheila Norgate Artist

Sheila Norgate - photo by Sean Sherstone

Sheila Norgate - photo by Sean Sherstone

Sheila Norgate - Guest Artist 2017

I
Had
No
Intention
of
Becoming
An
Artist

I was born in 1950 and raised south of Bloor Street in the heart of downtown Toronto Ontario. That’s me in the photo (the smaller one) looking somewhat askance. Perhaps I had already sensed the lot headed my way (homemaker, nurse, teacher, secretary) and was registering my displeasure.

I possess a flotilla of vintage books aimed at women (etiquette, charm, beauty etc.) and in the preface of one of them, a Home Economics treatise from 1943 (Foundations for Living, Appleton-Century-Crofts, NY) the authors posit that “since by far the larger percentage of these girls will not go on to college…it is vitally important that they receive from their high schools…virile, dynamic, scientific material that is pertinent to life as they find it.” Nowhere in the so-called virile, dynamic, scientific material disseminated to me during high school was there the merest mention that women might aspire to be artists. It’s probably a good thing since at the time, I had neither interest nor talent. Besides, there were only seven painters in all of Canada, and it was clear that women need not apply unless they were aspiring to be muse or model (just like a secretary only naked).

I entered into a banking career at age 22 and stayed there until a health crisis ten years in forced me down out of the corporate tower. I was far enough up the ladder to hit the ground hard, but the whole incident got my attention in a big way. While recovering from surgery to remove a threadbare section of my small intestine, I began to dabble in watercolours and in this way, changed the trajectory of my life.

Today I am privileged to make a living as a painter and feminist rabble-rouser from my home on Gabriola Island, BC where i live.