Oceanside Grandmothers host artist whose work graces their tote bags

Julie Cairns to speak at Knox United Church on March 30

The artist whose images adorn the vibrant Oceanside Grandmothers to Grandmothers’ popular tote bags is coming to town.

Painter and children’s book illustrator Julia Cairns will give a multi-media presentation called Travelling with My Paintbrush as part of the organization’s Ordinary People: Extraordinary Lives speaker presentations.

“She’s a very interesting person,” said organizer Pam Vest.

“I’ve lived in some interesting places in my life,” said Cairns, who is originally from England. In particular, she mentions Botswana. She stayed in the African country for nine years and that’s where she started painting.

After marrying her husband, Cairns then travelled to North America. They lived in the U.S., then in Canada before returning to the States to settle in New Mexico. Since then, Cairns has also travelled to India.

During her talk at the Oceanside Grandmother’s event, Cairns hopes the audience will get “insight” to another life.

“I’ve never done anything the normal route,” she said. “People are surprised how I get from A to B.”

The artist will also speak about how the places she has travelled, especially Africa, influenced her painting and how her artwork ended up on fabric.

“It’s fun to talk about,” she said. “I hope they are entertained.”

One of the event’s organizers, Pam Vest, said members of the Oceanside Grandmothers have been making totes out of Cairns’ fabric for around 7-8 years. “We sell hundreds of them a year,” she said, adding that they try to make each one unique. “We’re sewing all the time … it’s quite a little production.”

Aside from fabric for the totes, Vest said Cairns has also “been a great supporter of our Extravaganza” by donating prints for the event.

“She’s just so generous,” said fellow organizer Ann Tardiff. “We’re very grateful.”

The speaking presentation will take place at the Knox United Church on Monday, March 30 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 each and available at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville and Arbutus Fashion and Lifestyle in Qualicum Beach. The cost includes coffee, tea and goodies.

There will also be a craft table set up at the event, at which you can buy totes and other items made by the Oceanside Grandmothers.

All proceeds of the event will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers Campaign.