Parksville can boast a little bit of old-world charm, thanks to a new installation by artist Ina-Griet Raatz-von-Hirschhausen at the Bayside Resort’s second floor gallery.
Her mural ‘Mysteries of an Olde World Library’, which represents more than 400 hours of work, was inspired by a love of books.
“That’s kind of this magic of an old world library,” she said. “I always was drawn to books. I love books.”
The library mural is unique in that it was created on six wooden panels and not painted directly onto the room’s half wall. A hand-made throne, candelabra and portraits add to the installation’s charm. The paintings include a horse-head on a human body and a goat-head on a human body.
The initial idea came from Jennifer Bate, executive director of the McMillan Arts Centre (133 McMillan St.) in Parksville, who was taken in by Raatz-von-Hirschhausen’s exhibit at the MAC last fall.
“She thought it was kind of fun and kind of like a fantasy world,” Raatz-von-Hirschhausen said. “And so she asked me if I would be willing to set up a permanent exhibition.” Raatz-von-Hirschhausen suggested a mural on the second floor’s half wall.
The resort was looking for a old world study theme to create an area where people could relax with a book. Raatz-von-Hirschhausen began work in November 2021, so the project could be finished in time for Christmas.
“I didn’t care about anything else, I was in the studio from 4 o’clock in the morning until late at night,” she said.
The installation officially opened on Oct. 15.
The throne is made of both wood and paper mache. Raatz-von-Hirschhausen finds working with mixed media to be the most interesting. When inspiration hits, it’s easier for her to start with less and then add on more and more elements.
“I start with something small and then it comes to me,” she said. “When I make marionettes, I make them from paper mache. I start with the faces and then first it’s just kind of grey mushy dough and then I start building a face.”
As a creation, such as a marionette begins to take form, Raatz-von-Hirschhausen starts to understand what it will become, almost as if they are communicating with her, she said.
She recalled making a marionette of an old lady several years ago, and she considered dressing it in a floral apron.
“The moment they’re painted, the faces get really serious,” she said. “It was really like it told me ‘you know what? I’m a retired high school teacher. I’m not wearing a floral apron. Forget it!’”
Raatz-von-Hirschhausen decided to instead dress her creation in a tailored plaid shirt. She describes her creative process as an interaction between her and the artwork.
Although originally from Germany, she has lived in Canada for more than 20 years, including nine years in High Level, Alta. She and her husband moved to the Qualicum Beach area in 2014. Her studio is full of imaginative paintings, woodworks, jewlery, marionettes and more.
Raatz-von-Hirschhausen was impressed by the number and quality of artists in the area.
“The moment I see what other artists here do, I am always humbled,” she said.
She received her Masters degree in physical education and health sciences, but has been working as an artist since 2005. She has since had several solo and group exhibitions in Germany and in Canada. Raatz-von-Hirschhausen enjoys working with mixed media, such as paint, paper, fabric and wood, to make medieval-style scrolls, puppets and ornately decorated dresses, to name just a few.