Nanaimo Art Gallery art education co-ordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi adds a splash of colour to drawing on a transparent surface. She will lead a workshop on March 11. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Art Gallery inviting new mainland artists to lead adult workshops

Vancouver area artists Roxanne Charles and Bracken Hanuse Corlett to offer classes

The Nanaimo Art Gallery is wrapping up its yearlong inquiry into “What does it mean to live on an Island?” with a trio of weekly Art Lab workshops for adults.

The series begins with a weaving and found-item workshop Salish Sea: A Tidal Zone Rhythm with Semiahmoo Bay artist Roxanne Charles on Sunday, Feb. 25, followed by a painting and drawing session on March 4 called Transforming Images with Bracken Hanuse Corlett, an artist based out of Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. The workshops conclude with Create without Borders, in which participants and paint and draw on transparent surfaces with NAG art education co-ordinator Yvonne Vander Kooi.

This is the first time the visiting Indigenous artists are holding workshop at NAG but both have connections to the Island, Charles through her work – she weaves using cedar bark from fallen trees from the Island’s north – and Corlett through family he has living in Nanaimo and Ladysmith.

“These workshops are designed not for artists only but for artists and non-artists alike. We really wanted to get that understanding out there that people don’t have to have any experience making art,” Vander Kooi said.

“They can come in an participate in some really meaningful discussions, have some fun, create, use different materials under the guidance and mentorship of really practiced professionals and professionals that are willing to share what they’ve been doing and teach them just some new ways of making.”

In her cedar bark-weaving workshop, Charles will discuss the cultural significance of the tree to coastal First Nations.

“Here on the west coast we use the cedar tree for absolutely everything,” she said.

“From the moment a child was born it would have been on a cradleboard made of cedar, live in a longhouse of cedar, travel in a cedar canoe, cook on fires made of cedar … it’s really used for everything.”

Corlett creates large-scale murals and public pieces, but his process often starts with something small. He’ll be encouraging his workshop attendees to think about scale.

“I think it’s important, even for me when I was learning, that you can make your work bigger,” he said.

“You’re not just confined to a sketchbook page. You don’t have to have years and years of work doing that before you can make your work bigger. I think work, when it’s larger, it has obviously a bigger impact.”

WHAT’s ON … Art Lab adult workshops featuring Roxanne Charles, Bracken Hanuse Corlett and Yvonne Vander Kooi take place at the Nanaimo Art Gallery on Feb. 25, March 4 and March 11 respectively from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each workshop is $75 for members, $85 for non-members. Registration for all three workshops is is $215 for members, $245 for non-members. To register call 250-754-1750.

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