Marlene Bowman in her ceramics studio. (Photo contributed)

ARTISTS TOUR: Follow the fish to Metchosin and East Sooke

Stinking Fish group presents its annual summer studio tour July 27-31

If you’re looking for a unique gift that showcases the work of local artists in a multitude of styles, the Stinking Fish Summer Tour should check all the boxes on your list.

From July 27 to 31, the works of 11 artists in a wide range of mediums including ceramics, painting, printmaking, fibre, mosaics and other fine art will be on display and for sale at their home studios around Metchosin and East Sooke.

All of the participating artists are either guests or members of the popular Stinking Fish Studio Tour, including Metchosin resident Wendy Mitchell.

While her work with fleece may straddle the border between art and craft, it is always imaginative and unexpected, said brother Frank Mitchell, a painter who shares space in Studio 580 with his sibling and will also show and sell his works on the tour.

“Wendy is driven to create, not produce,” Frank notes. “For her, if the results prove attractive and useful to others, that is a bonus.”

Wendy Mitchell holding a bat of washed and carded fleece, the basics of her craft, out front of her studio in Metchosin. (Photo contributed)

During her time growing up on a farm in the Interior, Wendy’s work was initially limited to utilitarian garments for family and friends. After turning 40, however, she embarked on more artistic forays with the guidance of an experienced Nova Scotia quilter.

That work appealed to Wendy, in part because it utilized used materials and garments, which appealed to her urge to re-use and recycle. She then took to exploring paper making and printmaking before falling in love with spinning, which she describes as magical.

She is also enamoured with the camaraderie that spinning weaves into the work through the sharing of ideas, knowledge and gossip with members of different spinning groups.

“My inspiration comes from all things local and seasonal, from food to fibre,” she writes on her website. “Over the years, I have learned to love the process of taking raw fleece and transforming it by spinning, then knitting, felting or hooking it into wearable garments and decorative art. Dyes are fun, but I focus primarily on techniques which highlight the natural colours and properties of fleeces. I particularly enjoy demonstrating to the public the magic of spinning, proving that it is not an ancient or lost craft.”

Quick to sing the praises for the many local artists and artisans she says have been instrumental in her artistic evolution, Wendy is always in search of new directions. She has explored other crafts in recent years such as basket making, sculpture and bookmaking, all of which lend themselves toward her fibre work.

Other artists taking part in the Stinking Fish Summer Tour include potters Marlene Bowman and Ann Semple, painters Angela Andersen and Jocelyn West, ceramicist Rebecca McClure, sculptors Diana Smith and Joanne Parker Robertson, milliner Maria Curcic and Bonnie Coulter, whose mosaic work employs an unusual 2D technique.

Find a brochure with the studio map at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Metchosin Country Store, Coast Collective, Sooke Museum, Art World, Mary Winspear Centre, Red Gallery and 2% Jazz Coffee.

Or you can go online to stinkingfishstudiotour.com.

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