This past spring Tony Dobson took part in the Vancouver Island Woodworkers Guild show in Victoria and was impressed by how the group’s work was received by the community.
“It was hugely successful,” he said. “They were quite surprised at how the public reaction was very positive and they got quite a few new members as well.”
Dobson, who is also the president of Nanaimo’s Mid-Island Woodworkers Guild, was so motivated by the experience that he’s decided to bring a similar show to the Harbour City.
This month the guild is unveiling its first exhibition of work at the Nanaimo Arts Council. An opening reception is being held on Friday, Nov. 9.
“It was Tony who got in touch with me and it was basically his idea and I was in the fortunate position of just saying ‘yes,’” said NAC general manager Dan Appell.
Appell said he’s been amazed by the pieces the woodworkers have submitted.
“The hardest part of my whole job since I started this was really having to send some stuff back because there just wasn’t going to be the room for it,” he said.
Since its founding two years ago the guild has grown to include up to 59 members and about 22 of those members will have work in the show.
Dobson will be displaying Rocky, a rocking horse that he’s worked on for two years. He completed the project as a dying wish for local carver Douglas Davies, who started the work but was unable to finish it due to his weakening heath as a result of cancer. Davies reached out to the guild in 2016, when the horse was mostly a series of wooden blocks, and although Dobson was a beginner, he agreed to finish the project. Before Davies died later that year, he requested that the horse be auctioned off with the proceeds going towards the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation – another wish Dobson will honour.
While the floor is filled with pieces of furniture, carvings and turnings, the walls will be adorned with quilts courtesy the Nanaimo Quilters’ Guild.
Since the woodworker’s haven’t yet shown their creations in public, Dobson said he doesn’t know what to expect.
“I guess what I’m hoping for is that the community will have a greater awareness that there’s a wooodworking community here in town producing some very fine stuff,” he said.
WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for the Mid-Island Woodworkers Guild and Nanaimo Quilters’ Guild show takes places at the Nanaimo Arts Council, 78 Wharf St., on Friday, Nov. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. Show continues until Nov. 30.