From the days of Emily Carr and E.J. Hughes, Vancouver Island has held a special place in the world of art. Over the decades, so many artists have come to the Island to escape and retire that it has become an art destination.
Today, virtually every Island community is home to artists renowned globally and available locally. You can explore their creations in a variety of unique and fascinating local galleries.
ROBERT HELD ART GLASS
A half-century ago, Robert Held discovered glassblowing and became a world-leading pioneer in the art of hot glass. A few years ago, he moved to Vancouver Island and opened an incredible studio and gallery, with stunning offerings ranging from the affordable to creations for the serious collector. You’ll find his works in Japan and in Her Majesty’s Royal Collection in England. But you can find both Robert Held and his art in his colourful Quonset Hut on the Island Highway in Parksville. Website
ART BY MONK
MONK’s West Coast scenes are treasured by collectors the world over. Often her oils, acrylics, watercolours and sculptural paintings are sold before they’re finished. She loves people, so don’t be shy! You’re welcome to discover her painting at her studio on spectacular Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville or out on the sidewalk outside the Monk Art Gallery and Studio in downtown Parksville. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a brush in your hand! Website
AMY NEWSOM DESIGN
In her studio on the outskirts of Qualicum Beach, Amy Newsom is practising the mystical Celtic art of melding exquisite gemstones with precious metals to create incredible jewellery and gifts. You’ll especially treasure her works in ammolite, opal-like and one of Canada’s rarest gemstones. Inspired by nature, Newsom offers custom designs, healing gemstones and graceful interpretations of flora and fauna. Website
SALISH SEA MARKET
Just up the coast from Qualicum Beach in the tiny community of Bowser you’ll find the Salish Sea Market, a treasure trove of artistic expression in a wide range of mediums. The market itself is a beautifully designed work of art where you can spend hours discovering superb creations in pottery, glass, metal, wood, jewellery, fabric, music, paint, literature and photography. Many of Vancouver Island’s best artists are showcased here. Customers say it in one word: “Wow!” Website
FANNY BAY TRADING CO.
Collectors the world over have long treasured West Coast native art. You’ll find unique examples from renowned local First Nations artists in this small, high-quality gallery on the coast between Qualicum Beach and Courtenay. Its collection of dramatic, colourful hand-carved masks is alone worth the stop but you’ll be just as captivated by exquisite silver jewellery, blankets, hats, paintings, carvings, gorgeous clothing and more. Website
BRENDA’S GLASS EXPRESSIONS
On the scenic drive along the sea between Courtenay and Comox you’ll find this amazing mecca in the world of stained-glass art. Brenda and her sister Donna offer stained-glass creations that range from the whimsical to the visually stunning. This is also a serious workshop, so if you’re inspired to take up the challenge you’ll find everything you need here, from glass and metals to cutters and grinders. Website