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Robson artist receives Canada Council grant

Diana Robleś has led a large life, which might be why the Robson artist’s current project is an eight-piece large-canvas painting.
Diana Robleś first started her eight-piece large-canvas painting in 2014 and just received a Canada Council of the Arts grant to help her complete the work.

Diana Robleś has led a large life, which might be why the Robson artist’s current project is an eight-piece large-canvas painting.

Robleś, who will be 75 in two months, has lived in both Canada and the US, travelled the world, worked in fashion, and left her life married to a wealthy man with two children behind when she was in her thirties “to seek me” through her artwork.

“Canvas is like gold to me, because it’s empty and because I come from within, and not from what I see other people doing. I’ve stayed away from that. I was classically trained as a pianist for 16 years, and it made me ill,” she said. “Because I wasn’t expressing me.”

Roblesś has produced over 2000 paintings, as well as fiber art pieces, each of which is unique.

She’s also nearly died three times.

Robleś has pernicious anemia — her body has a decreased red blood cell count because her intestines can’t properly absorb vitamin B12 — and it has nearly killed her three times. The first time was when she was 51 and doctors couldn’t understand what was wrong with her.

“I almost didn’t make it, I had about a day to go,” she said.

Even now that she’s diagnosed, Robleś has to be careful to manage her illness. Her husband Frazer Cole, 25, helps her with that, and helped her apply for the Canada Council for the Arts grant she was awarded in mid-January. The grant is specifically for artists with disabilities and will allow Robleś to complete the large canvas project she began in 2014.

Cole built Robleś the first rectangular 5’ by 8’ frame.

“I said ‘You’ve got a lot to express, so why don’t I build you a large canvas?’” explained Cole.

The project began with “Eyes that See,” which features Cole’s eyes looking out over a surreal landscape, and then Cole came up with the idea of building two flanking triangles.

“Those two triangles I think came out because ever since I was a little girl, when I was in geography class, the pyramids fascinated me,” said Robleś.

The project then grew to include a total of eight canvases that form a diamond, but to complete it, Robleś needed funding, which is when they decided to apply for the grant.

Though Robleś started the project in Robson, she and Cole are now moving to White Rock, so it will be finished there. Cole has been developing a business plan for Universal Fine Art, the couple’s art business, with a coach from Community Futures. The couple recently launched the business, which they feel they can now grow better from the coast.

Cole has also been writing a book about Robleś’s life, and plans to have it finished by spring 2018.

To see some of Robleś’s work, visit