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  • Writer's pictureSusan Haigh

June's Bounty of Roses

When I was painting roses in the winter I was looking forward to this month when roses are everywhere.

The Nootka roses decorating the roadsides and forest edges are filling the air with their sweet scent and raising my spirits as I walk by. I need cheering up.

The recent news of the 215 indigenous children's bodies that were found in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Residential School has shaken me and my view of Canada. I grieve for the families who lost their children and can only imagine their pain. There has been so much disrespect for the indigenous people in the past and even in the present that I ardently pray that things will change soon. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action need to be implemented as soon as possible, not just talked about.

I wrote a poem to work through my dismay. I will post it at the end of this blog.


Roses from Europe though, are one joyful contribution the settlers made to this land.

What is the purpose of a rose? Only to bring joy and delight to the beholder. They aren't invasive like Scotch broom or English ivy. They need care and attention in exchange for their beauty. I have painted many roses over the years and continue to take photos every spring when more irresistible roses call out to me to be painted.

This is Rosa Grande, the biggest rose painting I have done, 48" x 36" acrylic on canvas.

It is still looking for a good home.

This is the same rose, a little newer and a little bit past it, it arches across the front of the house, a bit unruly but well loved.

At the other end of the size spectrum, I painted Pink Rose, oil on canvas, 8" x 8".

I was taken with its delicate splendor as it struggled to blossom on an ailing plant.

This year I spied another dreamy drooper...

This one is my favourite roses to grow as it can handle the neglect that is a big feature in my garden. It is an old fashioned rose, prolific and super fragrant. The orange flowers are African Daisies another perennial that survives neglect. I called the painting Four Part Harmony.

It was a challenge to frame but my Dad was there with his boat building skills to make my idea into a reality. It is another favourite painting still looking for a good home.

Four Part Harmony came about after my painting called Quatrose. Quatrose came about because I was in New Zealand for a 3 month winter get away and had a show in Vancouver the next summer that I was working towards. It was hard to find the large canvas I wanted in Whangarei so I got the idea to use four 16" x 20" canvases to divide the roses as if looking through a window.

When it came time to fly home, I bought a $5 suitcase at a thrift store (op shop in Kiwi lingo) stacked the four canvases in it and took it home as my extra piece of luggage. A large canvas would have been much more problematic to ship home.

A different rose but with similar variety in the colour of its petals. I'm sure it has a name but would knowing its name make it any more special? I think not. Quatrose acrylic on canvas 40" x 31"

'Rosaceous' oil on canvas 24" x 48" Sold

And again, a rose changing colour as it ages, something that always delights me.

Yellow roses, what can I say, they are radiant sunshine warmly wrapped in satin soft petals.

A beautiful yellow rose lighter and even brighter than my 'Yellow Rose #8', 40" x 30"

Recollection oil on canvas 24" x 36" Sold 2008

Here an old girl remembers better days and from her vantage point of a land gone to ruin, she looks across the water to the joyful verdant land or her past where roses grew in profusion. Despite the stench of her present existence, she can still smell the roses of her memory.


Lately spring in gardens has not been allowing me to spend much time in the studio.

I would like to share one of my latest small projects though. On a small canvas, 8" x 8", I love to have the image wrap around the sides to create a bit more of a third dimension. I screw the canvas onto a thin board so that I have something to hold onto while I work on the edges.

All good fun, I hope I have some time to do some more soon! And really soon I will get the rose paintings in this blog listed on my Etsy shop.


215 small bodies

It hurts to think about it

The bigotry, the outright disgusting belief in their superiority

The insidious plan to murder a culture

The children

The children ripped from their families

The children forbidden to speak their own language

The children, brutally punished

The children, dying alone, without their families

Their families dying of heartbreak

I can only imagine that kind of pain

I cry inside to think about it

I was born here

I have no other homeland

But my parents came from England.

We rode on the big wave of colonialism

The Commonwealth

Jolly old England

Seize the day, Canada, the land of plenty

Conquerors were glorified

The native people had reserves, we weren’t allowed there

On nautical charts I would see the borders marked

They didn’t seem very big

That bothered me

I was an adult before I started to hear about Residential Schools

What I read shocked me

Pained me, knowing my culture was complicit in this genocide

It especially pains me that these past events cannot be changed

I want no part of it

I want proper equality for our indigenous people

I am dumbfounded by the lack of clean drinking water on so many reserves

I want the government to properly fund fixing this inequality immediately

I want the indigenous peoples to be respected

Their dignity restored

They have much to teach us

I want them to be allowed to manage their own justice system

To not be judged by capitalist and colonial culture

I want to be proud to live in a Canada that truly values all people equally

That honours the indigenous people and their teachings

Respect and compassion for all

Oh please, let it be so


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