Oak Bay artist Sherry Tompalski prepares to unveil her boxers

Oak Bay artist Sherry Tompalski prepares to unveil her boxers

Boxers debut with Beauties at Gage Gallery

New collective artists collaborate in portraiture showcase

A series of boxers enjoy time in the spotlight this month after waiting three years for a chance in the ring.

Boxers, created by Oak Bay artist Sherry Tompalski, were inspired by the Female Afghan Boxing Club in Kabul.

“I’ve never exhibited the boxers,” said the new Oak Bay resident. “I’m looking froward to seeing how people respond to them.”

Tompalski returned west from Ottawa last June after a dual career as an artist and psychiatrist.

Decades ago, after medical school in Vancouver she and her husband Graham Thompson moved to Ottawa for practicum.

“We went for one year and ended up being there or 30,” she said. Upon their return, they opted for Victoria, which reminded them of Vancouver as it was three decades ago.

Tompalski’s new work is based on and inspired by pictures of the Afghan women who train in the basement of the Kabul stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. She learned of the women after a boxer made history as the first Afghan female boxer invited to the Olympics.

“If was shocked, it just sounded almost surreal,” she said.

“This work began as large graphite drawings that are torn up and reassembled with fragments of musical scores, portraying the process of coming undone, reforming and coming together. The Boxers incorporate a fragmented, difficult history which hopefully with healing and strength becomes music.”

Beauties by Arden Rose balance the boxers in a shared exhibition at Gage Gallery.

“We got together and I liked her immediately,” said Tompalski. “She’s also a figurative painter so that’s great.”

They crafted Boxers and Beauties for the shared show at Gage from Feb. 21 to March 11.

“We were thrown together in this and we’re both fairly new to the Gage Gallery,” said Rose, a Victoria resident. “I have been working on these kind of abstract portraits. I’ve been drawn to doing that lately.”

She was inspired by an in-depth workshop last fall.

“Two of the days we had live nude models. We did a lot of drawing and short sketches of nudes. But the models were all tiny and young. I added flesh to them because it just seemed more realistic. That started the inspiration with the nudes,” she said. “Then I thought I’ll try just the face.”