Geography Lessons

Nellie Duke and Sophie Atkinson
May 13 to August 20, 2023


In 1926, British-born artists Nellie Duke and Sophie Atkinson arrived in British Columbia and became active in the local arts community. Their separate, but similar, life paths overlapped in their explorations of the Okanagan Valley and Interior BC, which became the primary subject matter for their plein air watercolour paintings. Geography Lessons highlights the splendor of the landscape before it was impacted by overdevelopment and tourism.

Despite the challenges of making a living as an artist during this period, both Duke and Atkinson made artwork that was greatly valued by the people in their respective communities. With works from the Kelowna Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection, and loans from private lenders and public art galleries and museums across BC, this exhibition will highlight the talents of these lesser-known Okanagan artists.

Geography Lessons will be accompanied by a publication with an essay by Kelowna-based art historian and Guest Curator Carolyn MacHardy.


Geography Lessons: Curator’s Talk with Carolyn MacHardy

Thursday, June 15, 2023 | 6 to 7 pm
at the Kelowna Art Gallery, Front project space

“From There to Here, and Places in between: Reflecting on Nellie Duke and Sophie Atkinson.” Carolyn MacHardy, Art Historian and Guest Curator

This lecture discusses the art of Nellie Duke and Sophie Atkinson who first came to the Okanagan in 1926 from Britain. Nellie Duke settled in Monte Lake upon arrival, but Sophie Atkinson wouldn’t spend extended time in the BC Interior until 1948 when she would move to Revelstoke for the next 20 years.

Seating is limited. Pre-registration is required to attend .
This lecture-style presentation will take place in The Front project space of the Kelowna Art Gallery.





Nellie Duke (Helen M. Duke), Kalamalka Lake, B.C., n.d., watercolour on paper, 9 x 12 in.
Collection of the Kelowna Art Gallery. Gift of Miles and Jean Treadgold, 2021.


Sophie Atkinson, S. M. Simpson Ltd. Manhattan Beach, circa late 1940s, watercolour on paper,
13½ x 17¾ in. Collection of the Kelowna Art Gallery. Gift of Ernestine Lamoureux, 1977.

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