British Columbia

B.C. woman set to embark on ambitious art adventure with donkey

Sharon Bamber plans to travel along the historical Way of St. James in Europe with Midas the donkey — stopping to paint landscapes every eight kilometres.

Sharon Bamber will travel along famed medieval pilgrimage path

Sharon Bamber has met Midas the donkey before, and she plans to take the animal on a 1,600-kilometre art trek. (Sharon Bamber)

Two countries, 1,609 kilometres, 200 paintings, one donkey and an artist are shaping up to be the makings of an epic art adventure.

Sharon Bamber, an artist based near Nakusp, B.C., plans to trek the Way of St. James starting in September — one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages.

Her path will take her from Le Puy-en-Velay in southern France, over the Pyrenees mountains and across Spain through Santiago de Compostela to Fisterra in Galicia.

And she is travelling with a donkey named Midas. Every eight kilometres she plans to stop and paint the landscape in the area.

'Since 950 A.D.'

"It's something I really feel is important," said Bamber during CBC's Radio West.

"The route has been important to people since 950 A.D."

Indeed, the path has been of great consequence to pilgrims, historians and artists for centuries. Numerous artists have painted works along the trail and certain stretches of the Way are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In the past, pilgrims would travel along it — often by donkey — to pray at the shrine of the apostle, Saint James the Great, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, his apparent final resting place.

"People are still walking it today. The connection with the landscape and the history is really important to me," said Bamber.

She said she was motivated to take the journey, because she was "dismayed" at the disconnection she recently perceived between people and their natural surroundings.

Midas the donkey will pack Bamber's art supplies, such as her easel. The animal will be provided to Bamber by a group of art enthusiasts when she arrives in France.

Bamber has created "plein air" paintings before and plans to create similar ones along the Way. (Sharon Bamber)

While Bamber admitted she doesn't have a lot of experience working with donkeys, she said she has met the animal in the past and has trained with it for the adventure.

She said that to her knowledge no modern-day artist has embarked on such an art journey along the Way, and no one has ever stopped every eight kilometres to paint.

Bamber is currently raising funds for her journey which she hopes will yield 200 paintings.

With files from Radio West

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