CRD’s artist-in-residence program a unique partnership at Francis King Regional Park

CRD will evaluate pilot program at the end of March and decide whether it should be offered in future years

Artist Joanne Thomson holds a deer skull, which she uses for inspiration for her work at Francis King Regional Park.

Artist Joanne Thomson holds a deer skull, which she uses for inspiration for her work at Francis King Regional Park.

A pilot project for an artist in residence is off to a strong start at Francis King Regional Park.

Artist Joanne Thomson formed a unique partnership with the Capital Regional District, which is allowing her the use of the Foresters Cabin at Francis King in exchange for organizing and hosting public outreach programs.

“The Foresters Cabin is one of my favourite places to sketch and paint, and I noticed it was almost always empty. It’s not used much in the wintertime,” Thomson said.

The CRD pays only to heat the cabin, which Thomson considers a win-win as it allows her space to work in nature while drawing more visitors to the park.

Her project, entitled Alive and Dead – Birds and Bones, saw Thomson offer two public programs for visitors in January and February that included teaching kids about slugs and snails before moulding with oven clay, and a Valentine’s Day naturalist program.

“I had four couples in their 20s show up, as well as an elderly couple,” she said. “It was great to see that response.”

Nancie Dohan, the CRD’s co-ordinator of environmental interpretation, said the CRD will evaluate the pilot program at the end of March and decide whether it should be offered in future years.

“The park lends itself to having a program there because it has dedicated buildings,” Dohan said. “Joanne’s outreach programs really helped promote our interpretative programs because it gives another perspective to that natural and cultural diversity.”

Thomson will be hosting three open houses on March 7, 20 and 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to showcase her work created during the residency and demonstrate her painting and sketching process.

“I’ll show them some field sketching, studio work and I’ll have the deer skulls I’ll be working with and stuffed critters to see how I work with that as well,” she said.

Thomson hopes the CRD expands the program and finds more spaces for artists in residence in future.

“My hope is through this initiative, the CRD will see it’s useful and not much of a bother,” she said.

“Other than heating the cabin, there’s no expense to them. I don’t get paid anything and I can’t sell onsite. But people can find out about me and I’m having a lovely time.”

Find a list of ongoing interpretive events at  Francis King and all CRD parks at crd.bc.ca.

editor@saanichnews.com

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