– by Hans Tammemagi –
This is part of a rotating series of articles on members of Sidney Meet Up Women’s Networking Group, featuring women in business on the Saanich Peninsula.
Monica Reekie wears so many hats she could start a millinery shop! Four days a week she works at the Robert Bateman Gallery in the historic Canada Steamship building opposite the Legislature, immersed in Bateman’s outstanding nature paintings. For two days she provides private nursing for the elderly, showing her compassionate side. She has also been bitten by the travel bug and organizes art and nature tours. The most recent was a trip to the Galapagos Islands which was co-sponsored by National Geographic. Robert and Birgit Bateman were on the tour, which helped attract a full expedition.
Monica’s driving passion, however, is art, which she expresses mainly through photography but also via watercolours and acrylic. “I’ve been influenced by Robert Bateman and love to get close to and capture moments in nature. I also take lots of photos on my travels.” Monica’s camera goes everywhere with her, as she doesn’t want to miss a single moment. She leafed through a portfolio showing me delightful, exotic pictures of the Hermitage in Russia, wooden buildings in Norway, ancient relics in Turkey, and glistening futuristic cars. “I love this one,” she said, showing a photo of a small boy sitting amongst a large frieze in Paris, “it won best of show in last year’s Sidney Fine Arts Show.” A high accolade indeed!
Monica originally lived in Winnipeg but was drawn to Victoria and the great west-coast weather in 1999. She and her husband, Andy, started a B&B and she worked as a nurse. “The B&B guests came from around the world,” she explained, “and aroused my interest in travelling, although I also love living on Vancouver Island.” When I asked if she had children, her eyes twinkled, “Only the four-legged variety. We enjoy the company of two golden retrievers.”
Her favourite places to photograph locally are the migratory bird sanctuary at Esquimalt Lagoon and the flowers and plants at The Gardens at HCP. “Both are peaceful and calm,” she said, “and give me respite from my busy daily life and I get some great photos there too!”
Her curiosity about little-visited, distant places continues unabated. Currently, she is planning a trip to Svalbard, Norway, only “an inch on the map from the North Pole”. She is also working hard to prepare her show Distant Shores, which will be displayed at the Victoria Airport during the month of February. Monica’s art can be seen year around at the Coast Collective Arts Centre in Esquimalt, as well as on her web site, www.theartofmonicareekie.com.
Although “busy” doesn’t even begin to describe Monica’s action-packed life, she’s also cares and, for example, gives back a portion of all her artwork sales to charity. Nice lady!