The Gabriola Island Thanksgiving Studio Tour is back for its 23rd year and Gabriola Arts Council executive director Michelle Benjamin said this year’s studio tour is the biggest one yet.
This year’s tour, happening across Gabriola from Oct. 12 to 14, features 104 artists showing in 82 studios, Benjamin notes, up from 83 artists in 71 studios last year. She said a number of factors have contributed to the increase.
“The arts community, the arts dynamic on Gabriola just keeps growing and more energy [is] going into it,” she said. “Both young, emerging artists [and] professional artists who are mid-career who are making a home here are bringing this great new energy and just seeing that this is a great thing to be a part of.”
Among the artists making their Thanksgiving tour debut is painter Hilary Farmer, a former architect from Kingston, Ont. who lived in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Taiwan before moving to Gabriola with her husband last November.
“All this time I was exploring, trying to find the connection between creativity and an approach to art, one’s internal outlook and meditative viewpoint, and how that connects to what we make and how we make it,” she said.
Farmer said she had been directing her life towards being a full-time artist and finally achieved that goal three years ago.
“You would think that architecture’s creative, and it has a creative side, but a lot of it’s administrative and it can be very political so I always had this creative outlet at home, which would be painting,” she said.
Farmer said she and her husband moved to Gabriola to be closer to nature and said she enjoys both the active community life and the option to explore the natural landscape on her own. Farmer has started to get involved in the local arts community, and while she’s been a part of art shows in the past, the Thanksgiving tour will be the first time she’ll have guests in her studio.
Benjamin said some studios see as many as 500 visitors over the weekend and some artists have lineups at their door first thing in the morning. As a first time participant, Farmer said she’s just hoping for positive feedback and a good experience.
“My only regret, really, is that being in the tour means that I can’t see everybody else’s studio,” she said. “That’s kind of a drawback but it’s going to be interesting just to see how it goes and what people think of my work.”
WHAT’S ON … Gabriola Island Thanksgiving Studio Tour kick off at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, 476 South Rd., on Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Tour happens across the Island from Oct. 12 to 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for a studio map and full artist list.