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Root & Stem a powerful mother and daughter collaboration

Cathy Dobson Different but also similar.
Rachael Groombridge and her mom, Mary Groombridge will host their mother-daughter art exhibition, “Root & Stem” at Gallery in the Grove, on display now until Feb. 24.

Cathy Dobson

Different but also similar.

When fine arts grad Rachael Groombridge, 24, and her mom Mary Groombridge sat down in the family kitchen in Sarnia and painted individual studies of the same collection of plants and ornaments, the results were very different.

Yet their use of colour and their broad, loose strokes were much the same.

It was an interesting study of how Rachael grew up observing her mom’s work and being influenced in ways she didn’t even think about.

“My kids would have to find me behind whatever big piece I was working on,” said Mary, who was an art teacher at SCITS for 22 years before retiring in 2011.

She’s also a prominent local artist and active supporter of the arts.

“An easel was in their face all the time and my kids would intuitively figure out what my paintings were about, because I wouldn’t tell them,” said Mary.

“I don’t like telling anybody what they’re about. I’d rather they interpret for themselves.”

Rachael grew up surrounded by art in a home where her siblings also pursued the arts – Morgan as an illustrator and Zach as an actor.

In Grade 10, her mom was her art teacher.

“Our house is filled with my mom’s paintings. I was fascinated by them,” said Rachael. “But Mom likes acrylic paints and most of mine are oil.”

“People will say our work is similar but I say no,” said Mary.

For the next month, the public has an opportunity to judge for themselves at the Groombridge’s mother/daughter “Root & Stem” art exhibition at Gallery in the Grove.

Mary has 16 paintings in the show, while Rachael has 37. She made this show her focus since graduating from OCAD University in Toronto last spring.

Rachael calls her work representational, “a meditative reflection of yourself and your environment…I am interested in interpreting and creating atmosphere.”

The two were invited to stage an exhibition at the Bright’s Grove public gallery after Mary participated in a show there featuring local art teachers. She’s also juried the gallery’s student art show.

At the same time, Rachael independently asked gallery volunteers if they had space for her.

In 2012, she had been awarded the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts Walter Petryschuk $3,500 scholarship and was the recipient of the $1,500 Nan Punnett scholarship from the Gallery in the Grove for students studying art.

“I thought maybe it would be nice for the gallery to see I’ve done something with it,” she smiled.

A few conversations later, and the two were collaborating on a single show. Mary’s work tends to be larger, some pieces nearly 5-foot X 5-foot. Rachael’s work for Root & Stem reflects a lot of the outdoors with herself often figuring in it.

And the two still life paintings done simultaneously in the Groombridge kitchen are also on display, different but also similar.


WHAT: Root & Stem Mother/Daughter Exhibition

WHERE: Gallery in the Grove, 2618 Hamilton Rd., Bright’s Grove

WHEN: Ongoing until Feb. 24. Mon – Thurs 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat and Sun 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

ADMISSION: is free. All paintings are for sale.

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