005/100 Sytske Drijber

Image Caption: 95 year old veteran Sytske Drijber beside her portrait. #005/100 in the 100 Portraits/100 Poppies project. Guelph City Hall. Wed July 8, 2015.

95 year old veteran Sytske Drijber beside her portrait. #005/100 in the 100 Portraits/100 Poppies project. Guelph City Hall. Wed July 8, 2015.

What motivated you to be a part of this project?

The idea that this might be a chance to find out where my own age group of Guelph veterans would be, if still around – so curiosity I guess. The idea of a portrait done in an hour seemed like a novel idea too – originally I thought it would be a portrait on a camera.

What was going through your mind when you were “Sitting in Remembrance” for the project?

I kept asking Greg questions about his project, to pass the time, and to pick his brain. It seemed to me that his idea of 100 portraits would make each one only the size of a postage stamp!

An amateur artist myself, as I watched his system of quick paint splashes, I did wonder if he was a follower of Picasso or some other modern system! Eventually, I saw his methods did have a pleasing outcome.

It was very enlightening to hear his dream of incorporating all the portraits into a rendering of Col. McCrae’s poem, with the white spaces between the portraits being emblems of the rows of crosses, and with the green clothing we were asked to wear, representing the  grassy fields where the poppies (on our lapels) were growing.

I hope the viewers of his work will realize his lovely intention, and also that with this artistic depiction, people will remember our Soldiers sacrifice more often, not only on Remembrance Day, but whenever Greg’s work is on display.

What message do you want to pass along to future generations about your life’s experiences?

I was so  proud to hear of  Guelph’s poet – along with the message of Flanders Fields, when I attended a Remembrance Day service in Australia. I hope that today’s viewers of the 100 Portraits/100 Poppies project will identify with  the portraits as being of  real people – those who are proudly representing their own Comrades, some who are today lying in faroff graves.  That when they see the crosses “row on row” they will not be just counting the number of grave markers, but will realize these soldiers were once  alive, that  they too, loved life, and even  loved it enough to give up their own chance at it so that these very viewers could live in peace.

As for myself, I am happy to be a survivor.

2015 City of Guelph Artist in Residence, Greg Denton, with project participant, Sytske Drijber.

2015 City of Guelph Artist in Residence, Greg Denton, with project participant, Sytske Drijber.