Martha James shows some of her primitive-fired ceramic scultpure work at the Quadra Island artist exhibit at TOSH during the opening reception on Wednesday, May 3. — Adam Kveton

TOSH hosts rare Quadra Island group exhibit

Island artists prepare for 15th studio tour

A group of artists from Quadra Island are exhibiting everything from paintings to pottery to sculpted wax and more in what could be their first ever group exhibit.

The Quadra Island art exhibit runs at The Old School House Arts Centre from May 1-26, leading up to the island’s annual studio tour.

Generally the island’s artists do their best to have art lovers come to them, said the studio tour’s president, Maureen Maryka. But after the executive director for TOSH, Corinne James, and Quadra Island artist Perrin Sparks got to talking 10 months ago, a rare opportunity to see the wide array from the island all in one spot was organized.

The show includes work from 11 artists, and features various paintings, sculptures, textile pieces, stone work, ceramic, photos, fused glass and encaustic painting, which is painting with hot wax.

Martha James, who’s been living on the island for 42 years, brought some of her ceramic sculpture work to the exhibit.

Though she’s often creating functional work for purchase, she said the sculptural pieces “are where my heart really is,” she said during the exhibit’s opening reception on Wednesday, May 3.

The sculptural bowls are representations of classical forms, like chalices and goblets. She goes after a textural look with her work, spraying it with ash and water to create something people want to touch and feel. She’s also begun experimenting with what she calls primitive firing. A few of her pieces at the show were fired in a pit fueled by sawdust.

Maryka, on the other hand, paints in acrylic, and has been focusing on big-sky landscapes and waterfalls recently. Her colours, in particular, are striking.

“I’m all about colour,” she said, with her paintings at the show having bright, warm palettes, and one in particular having a rainbow-range that’s reminiscent of opals. Before moving from Calgary to B.C., Maryka said her friends told her she’d be painting grey from then on out.

“(But) I think I’m painting colour more than I ever was,” she said.

Despite the range of mediums, Corinne said the pieces do mesh together, perhaps echoing the island from which they originate, suggested Martha.

While the exhibit is an opportunity for art enthusiasts to view Quadra Island work without taking the trip there, it’s also an opportunity for the artists themselves, said Maryka and Martha.

“None of us get to see the studio tour,” said Martha, so they rarely see what other island artists are up to.

“Seeing it all in one place is fabulous for all of us,” said Maryka.

Though they both encouraged those interested to check out the studio tour on Quadra Island, which takes place June 3 and 4. More than 30 artists will be participating at 20 studios all over the island, with a show taking place at the community centre. Tickets are $5 a person.

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