We published our first interview with Rubeena Ratcliffe in May 2022.  I talked with Rubeena to see what’s transpired in the last 18 months and she doesn’t disappoint. Adventurous and somewhat fearless Ratcliffe and her husband packed up their family of five and decamped to a 550 square foot cabin on Bowen Island just off the coast of Vancouver BC.  She talks about the highs and lows of her one year island adventure and includes images of her latest paintings.  (You can read our first interview with Rubeena here.)

Rubeena Ratcliffe, cabin
“I thought it would be a brilliant idea to live there for a whole year, that’s if the kids could get into school on Bowen Island. I also thought it would be a great idea to get a dog, you know to spice things up :/. Living and renovating in a 550 sq/ft cabin turned home with three kids a dog and cat was borderline insane and brilliant all rolled up. We didn’t have a laundry machine or a bath tub and by October our waterline was finally connected to our cabin from our well (100 ft away). Prior to the connection, we had to carry water in buckets from the well.”
Rubeena cabin life, a massage

Back massage.

“The first few weeks of waking up early in the cold and starting a fire was fun, I was becoming a pro. By December, I was getting tired of being cold and making sure the fires didn’t die out. I wore a toque and moccasins and layers all day and all night. I was constantly poking the fire, boiling water, and baking because every time the oven was on, I would warm my hands up and the temperature would be a little higher in our small home.
… being cold was brutal and moving back to Vancouver wasn’t an option. I’m a stubborn girl.
My pant size did get larger, but I didn’t care, being cold was brutal and moving back to Vancouver wasn’t an option. I’m a stubborn girl. The children were making connections in sports and school and my husband and I were free to be creative: making furniture or homewares, insulating our cabin, tearing down walls, baking, and painting with little to zero social allegiance.”
Rubeena Ratcliffe, Jacaranda 1, acrylic on canvas 41 x 31 in

Wild Jacarandas 1, acrylic on canvas, 41′ x 31″ framed 

Rubeena Ratcliffe, Jacaranda 2, acrylic on canvas 41 x 31 in

Wild Jacarandas 2, acrylic on canvas, 41′ x 31″ framed 

An excerpt from our initial interview. 

I come from a family of four girls whom I’m close with to this day. We fight, we love and we are so very different from each other. I’m also a twin sister, so I’ve had the privilege of never being bored and always having a friend who has my back.

My parents immigrated from India to Canada in the 1960’s-70’s. So being first generation Indian, I’ve come to appreciate all the cultural familial aspects while living in Vancouver. I have three young children and a husband who is an architect. We met while both studying architecture at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I decided to be a stay at home Mother once we had our first daughter, It was a tough pill to swallow. I felt like I failed in some way. But it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Our oldest is now 11 and those early years of her being young literally vanished. I used to grumble with annoyance when older people would tell me, this time will fly by. Being sleep deprived and being a parent or even working in an office while your child is in daycare is such a difficult time. Art became an avenue to take out my internal frustration and eventually became my vocation.

The Kitchen in Jassowal, acrylic on canvas, 66

The Kitchen in Jassowal, acrylic on canvas, 66″ x 36″

“What most intrigued me during this time was the subject matter for my paintings, specifically The Kitchen In Jassowal, inspired by a childhood memory. The most ordinary things, still life objects I see around the home day after day but which resonate for me in their familiarity and rather unexceptional landscapes. Jassowal is a town in India where my Dad is from. We used to go there as children and there was never a surface without a copper dish. My work is very much inspired by my childhood memories and of the present moment. A balancing act of the impermanence and permanence of things.”
Rubeena Ratcliffe, Sport, acrylic on canvas 41 x 31 in

Sport, acrylic on canvas, 41″ x 31″

For more information on these paintings and other work by Rubeena Ratcliffe please get in touch with us by email: or call 604 730 9611.