An Interview with Three Sisters

L-R Chris Margaret Jan (2)

L-R: Christine Heggelin, painter, Margaret A. MacDonald Trites, photographer; and Jan Hull, sculptor

The Winding River Gallery in Stewiacke, NS is featuring a multi-media group art show called “Three Sisters”. The group really is three sisters: Christine Heggelin, painter, Margaret A. MacDonald Trites, photographer; and Jan Hull, sculptor. Having retired early from their various careers, they gradually found themselves quietly exploring their chosen artistic expression, as pastime or avocation, not an uncommon development with today’s young seniors.

How did you start making art?

Margaret: I really can’t remember how I began to take a special interest in photography. I think in the beginning I took pics of people as well as scenery and things, but gradually moved to realizing that the photos I valued most were those that showed the beauty or symbolism of ordinary objects as well as unusual ones. I also realized that my best photos were of something seen by chance; I could never go on a hunt for objects that would “fit”, but rather knew that they would be discovered by luck!

Chris: Years ago, I joined a group of friends weekly to learn decorative painting. We had an excellent instructor, who initially had us focus on how to use our brushes, prepare our surfaces, mixing colours, and to really ‘see’ the subject we were to paint. Four years ago I was encouraged to ‘try painting’, and having retired, I decided to see what I could do. I chose my medium, acrylics, and took two short courses, then tried to paint what I enjoyed most in the countryside. Two years ago, I found an instructor and a group of painters, members of AAAA, who inspired me, and am enjoying myself while I learn from them.

Jan: I got into sculpture quite unintentionally, and was surprised at how it captured my attention. I love it. Carving gives immediate feedback, good or bad. – you can see the whole sculpture in one glance. It can be very complex or minimalist and still tell a story.

How do you work?

Margaret: My camera work has largely been done using a good camera and film – yes, film! I remember that I was leaving a film at my favourite developer’s when a person at the counter said, ” Did I hear you say FILM?” I said, “Yes, you did.” And he said, ” Good for you! I’m a professional photographer from Toronto, and 95 per cent of us are using both film and digital work to capture our images, as usually one suits our purposes better than the other.” So now I also have digital, but often use film, as I like the idea of the result being a collaboration between my eye, the camera, and the light. Digital can create many wonderful, but different, special effects and enhancements, whereas I like the idea that I had to be in that special place, with the light just right, and the result is owing to my approach to it, with no changes or special effects added.

Chris: When I find the scene, I want to see how it looks through the light changes and weather changes. I take photos, and often take many. I paint mostly from a compilation of the photos, and have not tried painting en plein air. I need to be by myself to paint. Chatting prevents me from ‘seeing’ my subject as well, and slows down the process.

Jan: I work alone by necessity, as stone carving is a dusty business and not good for spectators. When I am geared up in my respirator, hearing protection and visor, there’s no chance of chatting, and once the tools are running, I don’t want to be worrying about where someone else is. It’s just me and this piece of stone.

Where do you sell your work?

Margaret: At Lunenburg Art Gallery on occasion.

Chris: The Three Sisters show at Winding River Gallery is my first. I will show my work later this year with others from my group, the Association of Atlantic Area Artists.

Jan: I’ve exhibited my work in various shows and galleries around the province, including Swoon Gallery online, Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal, Mary E, Black Gallery in Halifax, Fraser Centre in Tatamagouche, and ADJA Gallery in Liverpool.

Where else can we find you? 

Chris: I will soon have my paintings on Facebook: Christine Heggelin.

Jan:; Facebook: Jan Hull Stoneist

  • Winding River Gallery is located, at Exit 11 off Highway 102,  open daily 10-5. “Three Sisters” show ends at noon on Sunday, August 14.

    For further information, contact: or Winding River Gallery on Facebook.