Victoria College of Art president Peter Such, top right, instructors Victor Arcega (left), Steve McCallum, Yvonne Owens and vice-president Nancy Ruffalo. The college celebrates its 40th anniversary during its 2013/14 year, and anticipates a big turnout for its student art show Dec. 19-21.

Art College toasts 40 years

Victoria College of Art marks four decades of history with annual show and sale Dec. 19-21.

Each December, the halls and studios of Victoria College of Art reach a frenetic pace, as many of the school’s full-time students prepare for their annual Christmas show and art sale.

But this year’s show, marking VCA’s survival through 40 years of a sometimes tumultuous history, is a particularly proud moment for president Peter Such.

“This is completely privately funded college,” Such says. “There hasn’t been a single cent of public money in this school ever. We run the whole show.”

Such and his colleagues comprise the eclectic faculty at VCA, where many of Victoria’s respected artists have had their start or taught.

“The greats have all worked here,” says Yvonne Owens, VCA’s academic director and art history instructor. Artists like James Gordaneer, Andy Wooldrige, Flemming Jorgensen are just some of the dozen names she lists as she muses about the school’s history.

Such, professor emeritus at York University with an infectious enthusiasm for his work, said part of the appeal of an arts college to established faculty is the openness to new curriculum and ideas.

“These artists don’t want to teach in a university setting, or if they do, they like to come to us as well, because university settings are really a department in a corporate university, if you like,” he says. “There’s a certain flexibility at VCA. We don’t want to be teaching 40-year-old techniques and calling it modern.”

While many of VCA’s alumni have gone on to boast successful art careers, Such has brought in fresh blood to teach practical artistic programs like digital animation and illustration in the face of difficult economic conditions.

“The first year I ran this school, we only had two people on student loans. This year, we’ve got at least 20,” Such says. “It’s been a really amazing shift. For us, it’s kind of a barometer of young people’s aspirations, of being frustrated. That’s why we’ve instituted a lot of these career-oriented programs as well.”

Some of the school’s more innovative classes include e-book publishing for illustrators, taught by Steve McCallum, while Escape from Planet Earth producer Luke Carroll will soon begin teaching animation courses.

With visual artists, Such and his colleagues are now instructing established artists and third-year graduates on fine-tuning their work for gallery exhibitions, rather than putting effort into introductory courses for continuing education.

“The rec centres are doing basic theory courses now, so we’re concentrating on people who want to have a gallery show and already have a lot of experience,” he said.

VCA’s annual Christmas show and sale begins Dec. 19 at 7 p.m., and continues Dec. 20-21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and a list of 2014 courses, visit

Just Posted

Down on the Corner with Brent Butt

Lead actor in the popular Corner Gas sitcom brings his live show to Sidney April 7

Reconciliation and Mozart features four arias and narration

Net proceeds of the March 24 performance go to Reconciliation Canada

Royals gear up for WHL playoffs after suffering season-worst loss

Victoria has a solid 7-3 record this year against opening-round opponent Vancouver

Piano campaign purchases grand instrument and more for Oak Bay’s community theatre

Surplus funds sound mixer and console for Dave Dunnet Community Theatre

Two puppies snatched from East Sooke home

Anyone with information asked to contact Sooke RCMP

Controversial portrait could open dialogue on colonialism

“Likely” portrait of Captain George Vancouver soon available to public for the first time sparking debate at Royal BC Museum

REVIEW: Ballet Etoile scores comic triumph with Coppelia

Victoria professional company produces a fine ensemble piece

V2V ship tours offer hospitality, info on harbour-to-harbour services

Open houses planned for next few weekends on Victoria’s Inner Harbour

America’s Musical Journey premieres at the IMAX

Enter to win tickets to an invite only concert at your community newspaper’s Facebook page

KATHY KAY: Pair of indie films offer similar good messages

Call Me By Your Name, The Last Dalai Lama

ALLAN REID: Flying Otter Grill serves up more than just a plane view

Review of waterfront eatery finds Dine Around a $30 hit

Singer Ann Mortifee is giving a rare performance at the Port Theatre

Mortifee is sharing the bill with old friend folk-singer Rick Scott

John McDermott joins the Vancouver Island Symphony for St. Patrick’s Day concerts

Nanaimo performances will feature personal stories and traditional Irish ditties

Most Read