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Tedd Tucker beats the winter blues in Arts Underground show

“I’ve always been kind of impacted by the seasons in doing creative work.”
Tedd Tucker’s “Winter Sketches” show runs from Jan. 7 to Jan. 29 at Arts Underground. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Whether you’re hanging up blacklight curtains or fighting off SAD demons with bright lights, learning to live with (and even enjoy) the seasons is part of living in the North.

Whitehorse illustrator Tedd Tucker has plenty of experience dealing with the highs and lows of the calendar, and he delves into the winter experience in his new exhibition show at Arts Underground.

“I’ve always been kind of impacted by the seasons in doing creative work. In summer, I have this manic restless energy, where it’s hard for me to sit down to work. And in the winter, I have all the time in the world it feels like, but not always the comfort of sitting down with my mental thoughts and producing,” said Tucker.

“This was kind of an opportunity for me to kind of play with that theme,” he said.

Tucker’s “Winter Sketches” show runs from Jan. 7 to 25 in the Focus Gallery, and is the illustrator’s first solo show, building on various group shows, commercial work and a children’s book called “The Yukon Alphabet Book.”

Tucker said he wanted to explore the ways that the territory’s extreme seasonal shifts affect people’s energy, thoughts and habits. The result is a body of work with simple shapes and colours that tell the story of how we manage shifts in light and temperature, from bundling up to enjoying comfort foods.

When he first put out a call asking for people’s experiences with winter he received criticism from a small minority of responses – Tucker explains that some people have the idea that “if you don’t like the winter, move.”

Lots of layers are mandatory for most of the Yukon’s winter months. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Lots of layers are mandatory for most of the Yukon’s winter months. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

“I actually really do like the winters,” he explained. “But I think it’s interesting how they do impact us and how they influence us and our behaviours and habits.”

After 13 years in the territory, Tucker knows what he’s in for when the colours start to change and the daylight slowly fades. But while the summers are a high-energy time for getting outside, he admits the winter can be challenging for his mental health.

“In the summer, I imagine winter as this cosy season with all this wonderful time to wear sweaters and drink tea and make art. I do love winter for that. But it does put you in a different mental state sometimes,” he said. “

“I always put all these expectations on myself. I’m kind of learning winter should be a bit of a season to go easy on yourself and refresh and recharge and sleep in,” he said.

How does that fit in with a January gallery show in the middle of the season? The second week of Tucker’s show began on the third week of January – widely known as Blue Monday and considered the most depressing day of the year.

“I haven’t learned these lessons yet,” he admits with a laugh.

Despite the difficulties of making creative work in the depths of winter, the gallery show came together. And most Yukoners will be able to identify with Tucker’s playful shapes.

In one print, a three-layer popsicle takes the form of a person bundled in so many winter clothes you can picture them waddling down a Whitehorse sidewalk at -40 C.

In another, hazy orange circles represent the transition from midnight sun to the darkness of December, when the sun is only up in the capital for 19 per cent of the day.

And if the seasonal blues feel a little too familiar to you, Tucker’s show also includes a recipe for a “sunshine soup” with curry powder, cumin, garlic, onion, carrot and chicken broth – the perfect remedy for a bout of seasonal depression.

The museum label implores the viewer to “take a picture and try the soup on the advice of the artist.”

Contact Haley Ritchie at