Gabriola artist Stephen Cole began his journey as a sculptor at the dinner table when he was a child.
He started sculpting with his mound of mashed potatoes.
“I’ve done it forever, from being a kid making mashed potato boats,” said Cole.
He started carving when he was 14, drawing when he was 16 and oil painting in his 20s.
His sculptures began as functional pieces. Cole worked as a carpenter in high-end homes and created elaborate sculptures in fixtures such as people’s fireplaces or he would create a feature wall.
A family tragedy led to Cole creating plaster sculpture casts.
His one-year-old granddaughter died and the parents wanted a cast but the ones from the hospital and funeral home didn’t turn out, so Cole did his own. It led to him creating casts of all his family members.
Cole works in with a number of different stones for his contemporary sculptures and uses diamond grinders and a pneumatic chisel to create them.
In 2009, he moved to Gabriola and in 2015, he decided to make his art a priority in his life.
Cole participated in the annual Gabriola Island Thanksgiving Studio Tour for the first time last year.
“I was amazed at how good it was,” said Cole. “We had over 300 people and they all hung out for more than 45 minutes.”
Cole has also gone on the tour as a visitor in previous years.
“It’s fantastic, it’s amazing the quality of art on the Island,” he said.
Cole is opening his studio, the Rising Stone, located at 650 Wildwood Cres., during the tour.
This year marks the 20th annual Gabriola Island Thanksgiving Studio Tour. It runs Saturday to Monday (Oct. 8-10) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The tour’s kickoff soirée is tonight from 7-10 p.m. at tour central, Gabriola’s Hive Emporium, located at 9-575 North Rd. Attendees can speak to artists, enjoy light refreshments and music. The event is free to attend, but there is a cash bar and food vendors.
The event also includes Gobble Till You Wobble: A Thanksgiving Musical Feast on Oct. 8 at the Gabriola Community Hall, located at 2200 South Rd.
The event features performances by Gabriola musicians. Tickets are $23 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and younger and $10 for studio tour artists and are available at the door.
This year’s tour features 62 locations, with some artists sharing studio space. There is a variety of art including paintings, glass art, woven baskets, mixed media, jewelry, textile and fabric art, pottery, photography and more.
A profile of each artist opening his or her studio during the tour is available at www.artsgabriola.ca.
This year tour organizers have added a special tour passport, which is included in each studio tour brochure guide, where visitors can collect 20 stamps from studios to be entered in a draw to win a two night stay at Sunset Beach B&B, dinner for two at Woodfire Restaurant and $100 in art bucks.
If people collect 60 different stamps from the studios they get three chances to win. People can download a PDF version of the brochure at http://studiotour.artsgabriola.ca.