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New Show! Kriss Boggild “Hard & Soft Edges” Nov.11 – Dec.19

It’s the night before Kriss’s show and I am just putzing around the Gallery getting ready for, what will be, the last show of the year. I wanted to capture some photos of her artwork before tomorrows exhibit, as pieces do have a habit of exiting the Gallery undocumented – with their little red dots. I also like to create a walkthrough video as a record of the show, and I always try and find a quiet time to do this so I can have a little uninterrupted commentary on each artists work.

Kriss and I hung the show yesterday with her husband Shawn and it all went very smoothly. Always nice when the artists are as organized as they are talented. Here’s Kriss

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with several of her new geometric pieces for the exhibit which she has named “Hard and Soft Edges”. These paintings are a departure from her usual realist landscape paintings & textile art and are from a series she calls “Interrupting the Program” which was “born out of a desire to surprise myself and others with whatever image resulted when I intuited that it was “finished”. In her own words:“I set myself the task of using only three primary colours and taping the canvas  in a geometric composition that was pleasing to me. I then filled the untaped  portions in a manner that was somewhat random, removed the tape and taped the painting again in another configuration. I painted the untaped shapes again, using the same three primary colours. Some of the paintings were taped and re-taped three or four times and overpainted each time.

As I progressed in  the series, I began to incorporate images I had seen during the day,  images which arrested me due to their  graphic qualities – “Bernadette’s Coat” is the first example of that: after I ran into Bernadette who was wearing a  deep blue coat with white polka dots and a beautifully woven red, black and white scarf, I immediately returned to my studio and laid down tapes and painted. It was after painting that image that I  also allowed more white back into the compositions.

I also “broke” my “rule” about using three primary colours, I realize!

While I was working on the “hard edge” paintings, I was also working on textile pieces, a

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And that is one story about how the exhibition “Hard and Soft Edges” came to fruition!

Kriss’s diverse array of talents were nurtured by her extensive travel and broad array of life experiences which “informed her art and enriched her visual vocabulary”. This  vision has been supported with a thorough educational background in “drawing, painting and creative process at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design,Vancouver, BC, and Langara College.” She also “took  part time courses toward a  Diploma in Advanced Textile Arts at Capilano University, North Vancouver, BC. , which built upon the needlework skills she had been taught by her mother and grandmother”.

Here is another beautiful mixed media piece called “Boats and Sun” which will be at the show…

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Here are a few words from Kriss’s Bio which attest to the diversity of experience which has broadened and deepened her artistic expression, and added excitement to her expression…

“I was honoured to be asked by Tania Godoroja to assist her in painting the Canadian mural for the “World Wall Project” , curated by Judy Baca of SPARCinLA.  Tania’s  imagery of a “World without Fear” resonated for me : our continuing depredation of the natural world has created a culture of fear throughout the world and Tania’s thoughtful vision of how we can heal the wounds and create a new/old paradigm of respectful co-existence with the land and all of our citizens inspires me. I happily spent two summers in the “Tractor Shed” on Mayne Island, BC assisting her in the realization of that  vision. The mural, “The Inuit Sent Us a Canary” , was showcased from July- October 2017 at the SPARCinLA Museum in VeniceBeach, California.

I have also worked as an editor for a legal journal, legal researcher, environmental lawyer , a set-painter, a seamstress, a knit-wear designer, a freelance sweater repair person, a sales person, and was the executive director of ARTROPOLIS 2003 – an  exhibition held in the CBC -TV studios in  Vancouver, showcasing the work of over 500 artists from the province of British Columbia in Canada. For several years, I volunteered as “the sewing lady” at a downtown Vancouver free clothing shop serving very marginalized people.  There, I also hosted sewing bees.  The diverse skills of the participants were  showcased in a quilt that was auctioned at a fund raiser for the community.

I am excited by colour, gesture and expressiveness. I am moved by the panorama of each day and always grateful to be able to share that excitement through my art.”

If you’d like a preview or, are unable to visit the show in person, here is a walkthrough video of what is currently on the walls of Shavasana Art Gallery & Café:

 

  • For a selection of images of paint and textile work by Kriss Boggild, please visit www.krissboggild.ca

 

The Drunk, the Blind Man, and the Ukulele Player

Small islands seem to attract their fair share of dreamers, spiritualists, creative types, rogues & non-conformists.  Some come to escape the cacophony and rigor of urban existence, some come to build their alternative universe retirement dream, while many come to relax and play on this part-time fair-weather-friend holiday rock. The absence of police or any recognizable form of authority can add a lawless frontier edge to peoples activities and expectations. When you operate a small Gallery Café on just such an island – as I do – any and all of these people may walk through your door, and indeed, are encouraged to do so. On occasion they all arrive at once, and interweave into a lovely Felliniesque tapestry. I always consider it a blessing to be part of a notable absurdity.

It’s a warm & lovely Friday in July 2016. It’s late morning, all the windows of the Gallery are open as is the front door which offers an inviting access for all who wish to drop by for coffee & chitchat and a glimpse of Anita Edward’s art show, “Forgotten Gardens”. While I am otherwise engaged in pleasant mindless café duties, an off-island woman named Dralene wanders in, plunks herself down, and asks if it would be ok to play tunes on her ukelele for the smattering of guests.  I’m always delighted when musicians show up unannounced so encourage her to play freely for as long as she likes. Apparently she IMG_1456was on Mayne to attend the annual “Bob-b-que” with friends – a celebration of the life and music of Bob Dylan at which she would contribute her ukelele chops. She sings a little Bob, a little this and that, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” as memory (and my Journal) attests, and generally proceeds to entertain my guests and I for the next couple of hours. Shortly after she began, my friend Paul G. appeared while on a bike trip from Vancouver followed by two island friends Angie & Tim. Tim – a truly admirable & remarkable fellow – had recently lost his vision with a sudden onset of blindness which, understandably, had thrust him into new challenges and steep learning curves, which he accepted without complaint in his good-natured manner.

I introduced he and Angie to Paul and Dralene while a few others sat sipping their drinks at outside tables. Just as Angie excused herself to go, another friend – Gail – wandered into the shop, also sporting a ukelele which she proceeded to play with Dralene. You can never have too many ukeleles at a farce. My musicians soon realized that maybe it was best to take their jam outside and allow inside guests to have quiet conversation if they were not so ukelele inclined. Paul & Tim and I began some important dialogue about issues and opinions (God knows what we talked about – Donald Trump wasn’t in office yet)…and then, the drunk showed up.

I don’t remember the drunks name and indeed it’s not important to the story. It’s shortly before noon on Friday and he’s noticeably pissed. He’s carrying a bottle of what seems to be Coke and what I gather was laced with rum – “for aye! He were a seafarin’ man” By his own braggadocio, “One of the best boat designers in Canada…came here by boat…just down at the dock” He slurred in his slightly wobbly aggressive way. It seemed that he’d either lost or forgotten his cell phone charger and was now on some kind of angry rampage to track one down on our island. Finding all islanders collectively responsible for his stupidity and our failure for not having an electronics supply shop for his needs. “This is a shitty island, ye can’t even buy a cell phone charger.” “Where can I get one? You’ve got one, I’ll buy it from you” “Uh no, sorry, mine’s not for sale” I said. “C’mon…I’ll give you a hundred bucks – how much do you want? I need it because I’m part of the Emergency Disaster Response team” he belligerently blurted. “Dude” I thought, “you are a disaster – how can you possibly be part of an emergency response team?” I was starting to get angry with this guy, and, as one does with unpredictable drunks, was sizing him up in case I had to physically evict him from the Gallery. Like I mentioned earlier, there are no cops on Mayne so people sometimes feel empowered to break the rules. Meanwhile the ukeleles kept playing and my dialogue with my friends became intermittent as the obnoxious comments and demands of the drunk kept superseding our collective rationality. Trying to be a nice guy I said, “Tell you what, you can charge your phone here with my charger and that will at least get you on your way” (and you can take your unpleasant tirade to some other island, I thought) When you are dealing with such an obvious out-of-control alcoholic you need to be on your guard though, for their thoughts and actions can be chaotic. This ramps up the stress level. After 20 or 30 minutes of annoying commentary, he asked me to give him my Social Insurance Number to show me how good he was at memorizing numbers. My level of tolerance was reaching it’s end, and this request tipped it over into mild anger “I’m not giving you my fucking Social Insurance Number” I glared. The ukelele ladies kept the background music steady and incongruous when suddenly, Tim changed the subject. “Do you know anything about Razors?” he asked. “Huh?” I turned to look at him, welcoming the distraction from the Drunken Sea Captain, “You mean like, shaving razors?” I said, “Yeah” said Tim as he pulled a little baggie from his pocket with a shaving razor in it. “Since I lost my sight” he said, “I can’t figure out how to open this up, can you show me?” We are now operating at max-Fellini. I take Tim and his razor outside because I’m afraid of dumping his beard hairs on my floor – preferring to do it on my front lawn beside the Ukelele Duo. Meanwhile the drunk is swigging and staggering his way around my gallery. Paul is absorbing the spectacle. I’m picking up pieces of my blind buddies razor off my front lawn, as Jeffery the quirky Karl Marx look-alike shows up with his rather demure Japanese girlfriend Meg.

I’m in some kind of strange inexplicable heaven – a conductor to all of these collective moments on the stage of my café. But like all moments, they must pass, the participants have to move on to new adventures. Paul had to hit the road to continue his bike trip. Tim armed with his new manageable razor picked up his white cane to walk home. The ukulele sisters collected themselves to rendezvous with the rest of their day and the drunk, with his newly-charged cell phone in hand grumbled his way out the door and down the street to his next misadventure. Like an unexpected summer storm, the players breezed in unannounced, gave a dramatic show and then left. I returned to the pleasant tasks at hand..greeting more guests…pouring a little coffee, and talking about the beauty of the art upon my walls.

Addenda: Later, over dinner on the lovely deck of the Springwater Lodge, my friend Paul and I commiserated on the days events when Paul pulled a book from his backpack “The Course of Love” by Alain de Botton, a book which he felt I might like. The premise being  “the magnificent, sometimes frightening, developments we can make as we slowly realise that love is in essence a skill we need to learn rather than an enthusiasm we simply experience.”  It was a glorious day. 🙂

 

 

 

Donna Williams & Joella Grymaloski “Nature of Reflections” @ Shavasana Art Gallery & Café- Friday October 20, 7 – 9 pm

It’s Sunday evening in mid-October. The fire ban has been lifted on this small water-challenged island on which I reside, and residents are taking this opportunity to clear months of accumulated debris by having autumnal fires.  These are the first fires we have seen in 4 or 5 months, and smoke now drifts down the cool valleys of this picturesque enclave.

Donna Williams – one of two artists who are showing with me right now – and I, hung her and Joella Grymaloski’s art several days ago. We are just gearing up for her Artist’s Opening on Friday October the 20th at 7 o’clock, and had decided to have a “soft opening” on Friday the 13th when her and Joella’s beautiful and beguiling pieces were made accessible to visitors to Shavasana Art Gallery & Café.

The show is called “Nature of Reflections” and centres around Donna’s intriguing collection of abstract photographs which were captured on a recent trip to Toronto. The compelling images are shots of the downtown urban landscape as viewed through reflections in high-rise glass towers. The effect is almost painterly in some instances and reveals the beauty of glass in its ability to capture and change reflected shape and colour.

This collection is beautifully complemented by Joella’s quilting artistry and her sewing and painting talents which she displays so nicely with a series of hanging prayer flags.

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If you happen to be reading this before October the 20th please join us at the opening on Friday night. There will be refreshments, Conviviality and Art – and a chance to meet the artists! Below is a little walkthrough video to give you a better idea of what you might see at the show, which runs until November the 5th. Hope to see you there (or, in this case -here! 🙂 )

Previous Exhibit – Famous Empty Sky “NNots – A New Twist” Aug. 17 – Sept. 24

On Thursday August 17th we had a fabulous opening for our current artist: Famous Empty Sky, and her new show “NNots – A new Twist”. Empty Sky brought a gallery-full of her beautiful “Mysterious Mixed Media Works”…

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…to Mayne Island residents and visitors alike. The gallery was packed and lively, the food and refreshments were delicious, and for two hours we were serenaded by the melodious guitar of Jim Heshedahl – bliss! 🙂

Catering was provided by the talented Astrid Bellem (right) and the lovely Mikela Jay (left) assisted with the evenings logistics – IMG_2279

Famous Empty Sky shared the stage with budding young artist Thea-Rose Mitchell whose small colourful paintings and bone china teacup candles were quite popular with guests.

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The fascinating beauty of Empty Sky’s NNots draws one in for a closer look at their intricate complexity, and often leads to new revelations as the viewer is treated to visual discoveries both large and small. In an effort to answer the many questions that were posed during the course of the evening, I’ll quote directly from her Artist’s Statement:

 “These new works are called the “Nnots”. They are true works of mixed media containing elements of drawing, printing, collage, photography, and painting. A fresh energy carries me along, producing images that reflect all my earlier work but with a new twist. Now, I have created over 60 individual pieces.  

           It begins with a simple knotted piece of fine handmade paper and sucks me into a vortex of art making unparalleled in my 40 years of visual art creation. My compositions simplify toward a complete form of abstraction, moving toward pure sensation. Details enlarge to a point where they are no longer recognizable and assume true abstract character.    

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       I make no other work. I am at the mercy of the Nnots. It is glorious and hard. It is the most demanding work I’ve ever done. Requiring intense meditative concentration and constant honing of all my earlier skills, they take on a life force of their own. I am along for the ride and very grateful for the opportunity to be their humble scribe.

It’s all in the Nnots.

              They reflect all of my experiences and they get me through. They are the light in the dark. They reveal the beauty in the darkness. They are about capturing the moment of transition, that moment of stillness in the act of transformation.

             The Nnots are innocent, childlike but also, dark and dangerous. They mimic ancient forms and sing songs of science fiction sirens while referencing veins, arteries, orchids, and Japanese samurai. Archaic, totemic, architectonic, both crisp and soft, they float in a contemplative space. Synthetic yet organic, they reveal multiple faces like other worldly fairies bringing hints of the “oversoul”, of Buddhas, too. Wizards, princesses and dragons lurk between the folds.  

The more one looks, the more one sees.”

Several years ago, Mikela Jay produced a video about Empty Sky’s NNots which, in her own words was “a hauntingly beautiful journey, literally navigating in/out of magical landscapes, layer upon layer of soulful imagery…” here is that video – with a serene soundtrack by John Williams and a cello solo by Yo Yo Ma:

This show will run until September 24th – don’t miss it!

 

Previous Exhibit: Terrill Welch Solo Exhibition, “West to East Coast Canadian Landscapes in Paint” June 30 – Aug 13/2017

I’m writing this on the morning of June 30, 2017, just a few hours before our next Art Opening here at Shavasana Gallery. For the next 6 weeks I’ll be showcasing the talents of Terrill Welch, one of Mayne Islands’ pre-eminent landscape oil painters. Terrill and I hung the show a couple of days ago – a relatively painless and fun hanging session – so I’ve had a couple of days to enjoy Terrill’s work prior to today’s show.

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This is a Solo Exhibition, and is called “West to East Coast Canadian Landscapes in Paint” and will be running until August 13.  Although her brush is often busy capturing the beauty of the region in which we live, the  “mysterious and rugged southwest coast around her home on Mayne Island B.C.” she has also captured stunning vistas  from her travels to the east coast of Canada, Europe and the United States. The current show comprises local and Maritime land & seascapes.

Here are a few words from Terrill about her artistic process…..

………….”Stripping away the human illusion of our separation from nature is at the core of my work. This illusion extends to a presumption of a separation between land, water and sky. I explore the interdependency of these natural elements. These works reflect the surrounding landscapes. The brushstrokes render the light, shadow, movement, smells, sounds and emotions I am experiencing as I paint. The resulting paintings are my complete sensory experience, expressed.The work is an invitation to join me in exploring the relationship between the innate elements of our environment and ourselves. My intention is for the viewers to find themselves within the landscapes as I have – filled with curiosity, wonder and discovery.”

Here is a little walkthrough of Terrill’s show just prior to the Opening:

Though locally appreciated, Terrill’s work is internationally collected.  Her paintings can be found in the homes of art collectors throughout Canada and the United States as well as in Australia, England, France, Italy, Norway and Switzerland. As well, her work is in collections that also include such renowned Canadian landscape painters as Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris.

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It’s a glorious day here in the Gulf Islands, lots going on this weekend in honour of Canada Day tomorrow. I feel fortunate to be able to gaze out the window at the same vistas that Terrill Welch has captured – so beautifully – on canvas…

Previous Exhibit – Pam Carr “Go with the Flow” May 13 – June 29/2017

Pam Carr is a multi-talented painter, musician and fabric artist who seems to have a boundless supply of energy and creative vision.  Despite being immersed in the complexities surrounding the construction of her new cob house on Mayne Island, Pam was able to create an entire body of abstract art within a brief 6 week period. From March 25 until opening night on May 13, Pam produced well over 65 beautiful abstracts which are now displayed at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café.

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This is from Pam’s descriptive of her current creative process: …”Explore fluid art and wonder at how it flows. This art form is unpredictable and well-suited to those who live in the moment. Featuring abstract art created by pouring, swirling and swiping.” My own description of Pam’s new work includes the words, “thought-provoking eye candy”…I liked it so much I bought 3 pieces before the show opened 🙂

Opening night was a well-attended, fun event,  with great food (thanks Astrid!), and a happy, convivial crowd. Judging by the number of “red dots” that adorn her “sold” pieces, I’d have to say that that Pam’s Art was well-received and has made purchasers, the artist and the curator (me! 🙂 ) pleased with the outcome. Here’s a little video walkabout to give you an idea of what you’ll see at Shavasana while Pam’s show is up and running. The show ends on June 29.

Butterfly Moment

It’s Wednesday May 3, 2017 and I am at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library doing a little writing for my Art Gallery blog. Most of my recent blog-based writing has been done at coffee shops, or at my studio on Mayne Island, however, for the past three weeks I’ve been coming here to write with my friend Janis Harper, as a little experiment to see if writing with another person can be more focused, productive, or…fun. Thus far, the experiment has been working on all three counts. At the very least it removes some of the insularity associated with putting fingertips to keyboards.

It’s raining out…cold and grey…and we are now about 7 months into one of the shittiest, longest, coldest, wettest winters in living memory. Perhaps the lousy weather has contributed to my prolific writing jag since late last November. The launch of my two blog-friendly WordPress websites (this one and www.clayandbone.com ) last fall has certainly been an encouragement to recommence the creative process. There has been a considerable hiatus since I last wrote plays for my theatre group –  Just Push Play – in the 90’s (www.justpushplay.ca) so this current flurry of word-based creativity feels good. We’ll see how it evolves.

But I digress…the butterfly moment…. Considering how grey and monochromatic it has been in this region for such a long time, I felt like posting this little video I took during a pause in one of our jam sessions on the porch last summer as a reminder that it will not always be thus. Have hope! Songbirds have begun returning from their winter time shares in Mexico, and it is only a matter of time before we are visited by gorgeous little creatures such as this…

…an idyllic moment at Shavasana Art Gallery on Mayne Island  🙂 (courtesy of the great video capabilities of the iPhone 6+)

 

 

Previous Exhibit – Angie Carson & Trish Mitchell – Nov. 11 – Dec. 22/2016

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We have a fabulous show opening tonight – Nov. 11, 2016 – showcasing the talents of Trish Mitchell (Mosaics, Mixed Media, Collage) and Angie Carson (Acrylics, Portraits)…here are some photos of the show and a video which will give you a taste of the beauty that is being exhibited here!

Previous Exhibit – Linda Dzus & Abbey Manellis – March 31 – May 7/2017

Local Artist Linda Dzus and her good friend Abbey Blair-Brown from Tsawwassen are sharing this months spotlight here at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café. Linda and Abbey have been friend for over 20 years and decided several months ago to combine forces and exhibit their talents here at the gallery. The show is called “Halos, Landscapes Mud & Stone”.

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Linda is a photographer and has mounted a fabulous series of prints that reflect the natural beauty of Mayne Island. She is also exhibiting a series of whimsical yet realistic paintings of local fauna on various sized beach rocks. Abbey has produced a gorgeous series of paintings, ceramic plates, bowls and figurines that focus primarily on the female form with iconic inclusion of bird imagery, text, flowers and colourful patterns to evoke – in her own words – “a sense of humility”…here is a short video walkthrough to give you a better idea:

The opening on Friday March 31 was a lively and  fun evening of art, delicious snacks (catered by Astrid) and good conversation…the show runs until May 7.

Searching for Shavasana (Part 2)

Shortly after I returned to Vancouver, in late May of 2013, I called the landlord to find out more about the situation on Mayne, ask  questions, and gather a bit of info. The building was indeed zoned commercial/residential which covered my need for accommodation on the island and gave me the possibility of opening a little business, making a little cash, and having a cool project to work on. It was a 10 acre waterfront parcel, with four additional cottages that were rented out either long-term, or for summer vacation rental. John Collinson, one of the original settlers from the mid-1800’s is buried on the property with his first nations wife,  several ill-fated children, and reputedly has, growing on it, the oldest apple trees in BC – making this particular piece of land significant from a heritage perspective. Ideas for a business, although unformed as yet, were germinating. What could I do there? As I was completely bereft of skills, talents, aptitudes or business acumen my first thought was…artist studio. As I was also – at the time –  completely devoid of motivation, drive, or work ethic my other embryonic idea was “self-serve coffee bar”…these two ideas would have to fall into bed together and germinate further so I could convince the landlord that I actually had a business plan, and was not just another flaky guy wanting to open up an …Art Studio Café. 🙂 I arranged to meet Dave the landlord back on Mayne in early June for mutual reassurance.

As I re-read my Journal during the early days of this exploration I am struck by two things: my wide-eyed interpretation of simple encounters as a kind of magical projection of wonderment (a woman carrying a basket of cilantro down a dusty country road would take on almost mystic qualities) and; the ongoing internal struggle between the two halves of my psyche as I weighed the pros and cons of this decision…uncertainty vs. impulsive commitment, indecision vs. strong desire,  – I was having a dialogue with myself on the pages of my Journal as I sorted out my internal tendency to overthink. Problems vs possibilities…I quite literally rejected the whole concept three times before I would ultimately commit. Blessedly, magic & visceral pull would eventually win out over fear and indecisiveness…but we’re not there yet.

The June 12 meeting with Dave  went well. As it turned out we had worked together as young guys in the 70’s, so there was a decent cordial recollection of being work chums from another era. Even this diminishes some of the misgivings and creates hints of inevitability. I managed to get inside the space, take some measurements and do some imaginings of what it may become under my tutelage. The cottage is petite…around 600 sq.feet with a cool front porch & ground level rancher-style access. The windows are plentiful heritage multi-pane with tons of light and stellar site lines. The best view is of  Galiano Island and Active Pass through which all of the regional ferry traffic travels. The kitchen and bathroom are small but adequate, and, as an out-of-town part-time dwelling it works magnificently for my needs. It’s suitability as a business though,  will be determined by the appropriateness of my ideas and the efficacy of “my plan”…(which does not yet exist, although  Mr. Journal gives an early indicator of “art – cycle – website – sculpture – café – thing”…I’m good at vague.

As these are my early days exploring Mayne Island, I was still in need of further convincing that this place had what I was in need of ….what I was searching for – serenity & the muse. Although Dave’s commercial property had incredible appeal and seemed perfectly suited to my “vision dream” I needed to unearth the tranquility and unleash “the muse” – that almost indecipherable thing that would allow creative passions to flow.

After years of urban cacophony and living a life that had been turned up to “11” I was in serious need of chillout. The difference between Vancouver and Mayne is vast. Although they are only 30 kilometres and a short ferry ride apart, the sense of decompression one gets upon disembarking from the ferry onto this idyllic rock is immediate. Things slow down, noises abate, enclaves of bliss abound and circadian rhythms tap you gently on the shoulder to remind you when it’s time to eat, or whisper in your ear “lights out…time to shut ‘er down for the day”. Beaches on warm summer days offer moments of  sublime delight…the sounds of happy children discovering the magic of oceanside play, while dogs run in slo-mo after tossed frisbees,  bathed in a golden light while gentle breezes blow and the tides lap. Forest trails and favourite mountain vistas can provide similar moments of  calm and beauty. Climbing the local peak and sourcing out a secluded spot with equal parts sun-generated warmth and the serenade of trees and birds is a fabulous way to meditate. OK….tranquility – check.

Despite my earlier indecisiveness and waffling, I knew from the moment that I saw Dave’s little commercial cottage that this quirky setting would provide a perfect tableau to unleash the creative inspirations which had been bottled up inside of me for some time. Whether suppressed or dormant, they were ready to come forth. My muse needed irony and diversity, and a boatload of new and unique experiences which the Gallery – Studio – Café , and life on Mayne Island would provide in spades. What tragedy and hard drinking had squelched, sobriety, stimulus, serendipity and synchronicity let flourish. Writing the script and setting the stage for this new play, unleashed some hidden talents, and gave creative energy to new roles I would be required to perform. As a creative generalist, they would be many….finding one’s Muse – check.

Despite the seeming perfection of Mayne Island and Dave’s little cottage business for my needs, my indecisiveness dies hard and I needed to return to Vancouver for further pondering, worry and excessive pensive thinking. In fairness to Dave, as the weeks slipped by and I’d not come to a firm decision, I called him to remove myself as a potential candidate for occupancy…but I couldn’t get the islands or the place out of my thoughts so I planned another trip in early July to do a final round-robin of my favourite island contenders…Saturna, Pender and Mayne. Unlike Goldilocks, I have to test each bowl of porridge several times.

After a year without wheels, I am back on the road and it does feel good. Liberating. I use my van as a camper when I am on these road trips for the convenience of being able to pull over and sleep anywhere on these accomodation-challenged islands…especially in summertime. I love all of these islands, and they each have something unique to offer, “They all have their own personality”, as they say. I start with Saturna, as it is the most remote, and will work my way back. Saturna is gorgeous and was one of my first considerations but is sparsely populated (300 people) and consequently is lacking in some key amenities. Pender is also stunning but the cycling felt so-so and I’m not fond of some of the turns their development have taken. Each island will dish out serenity and stunning vistas by the truckload, but there was only one “Dave’s Cottage”… And that was on Mayne.

Fortunately, when I returned on July 8 it was still vacant and beckoning. And the island was still dishing out its charms, despite, or perhaps because of, the uptick in people enjoying their summer vacation activities. Perfect days happen and for me, here, they occur with regularity.

It was on this trip that the ideas for the business were congealing and here that I first made reference to the “Shavasana* Chillout Project”, and also germinated the name I would give to my mask making activities, “Clay and Bone”www.clayandbone.com . My thoughts, creative energy and focus were now being absorbed by this looming commitment. It seemed there was no turning back, so, a few days later I called Dave to tell him I definitely wanted it and was ready to commit. The next day I awoke with serious apprehension & “buyers remorse” … I felt like bailing on the whole project.

But I didn’t. I continued my decision struggle debate internally and within the pages of my Journal…“march forward…explore…evolve..learn”, I exhorted myself, “this project may provide the necessary “raison d’etre” to boost creative energies & passions”…I said, and that I would “need to get in the correct mind space” I told myself, so I could “experiment with the place as an incubator for: website development, writing, creative space, playground, business, & the experience of living in a small community on an island”. I obviously required a lot of convincing, which only I was capable of doing. The two halves of my Gemini brain were fighting it out. And finally, from the Journal, “if not this, what?”. The desire to end the search and begin the creative work was strong – I called Dave to meet up on Mayne and sign the lease…I would reject the place one last time before the ink was dry.

It was all set. I was to meet Dave back on Mayne, the August 1st long weekend to sign the lease and take possession. As friends were vacationing there I came over a day early to hang out with them. Dave had given me keys to the place so I could show it to my friends and also stay there for a couple of nights. As we were all about to walk into the cottage, my soon-to-be new neighbour Billie came over and awkwardly injected herself into our group…acting, I suppose as an unexpected and uninvited “tour guide”. Unbeknownst to me, Billie was also the de facto caretaker, cleaning lady and security guard for the property – and also had a bunch of her stuff stored there for the interim. She was also exhibiting – as I would eventually find out – some old fashioned “island familiarity” (not to be confused with nosiness 🙂 ) which we city folk were just plain unaccustomed to. In a word – it was weird.

And of course, my friends, over dinner après, had to remind me of this and embellish upon it – they were British after all. “She likes you you know”…“She’ll be over all the time”…“It’ll be like Kathy Bates in the movie Misery”…“She’s going to break in and tie you to your bed” and on, and on…..and on. All in good fun.

As I retired back to the cottage for the evening, the clouds had rolled in, the wind had picked up and there was a hint of rain – it was a dark and stormy night. As I got ready for bed, there was a sharp rap on the front window “Who is it?”, I quailed, “It’s me, Billie…your next door neighbour” With trepidation I flung open the curtains and there she was, face inches from the window, wearing a bike light on her ever-present safari hat, “It’s blowing pretty hard out tonight” she said, “sometimes we have power outages and you might need…candles!” She raised aloft a couple of candles in each hand. As I absorbed this apparition I said, “Uuuuh…I think I’m good Billie…I have a flashlight – thanks though” The Brits were right…it was going to be a nightmare.

This thought stuck with me overnight. It wasn’t going to be a relaxing & chill experience…I was going to be pestered, hounded, and it would not be good. I’d be trapped in awkward encounters…badgered by Billie…I’d have to bail. Which I did. I saw Dave for breakfast at the bakery the next morning and – rather than sign a leasing agreement – explained my apprehension, and, once again, rejected the property. He completely understood. The deal was off.

We shook hands, I left, and went for a long walk in the woods and down to one my favourite beaches, and sat there, staring at Mt. Baker. And then I had an epiphany – there are going to be problems, difficulties, wherever you go. There is no escaping them. They are opportunities for growth, and need to be confronted – gently – and dealt with. I can handle this, I told myself, try it for a year and if you don’t like it you can move on. I reconnected with Dave and explained my change of heart. Once again, because Dave is a good guy, he completely understood. We met up and I signed the lease for one year…this time, I let the ink dry.

PostScript: Billie and I have since become friends and good neighbours. She’s big hearted, generous and kind. We look out for one another…and she’s right – it’s always good to keep a supply of candles handy for those blustery nights when the power can go off. I had found Shavasana.

 

*Shavasana is two Sanskrit words: Shava (शव, Śava) meaning “corpse”, and Asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning “posture” or “pose” and is the last position in Yoga – considered by some, to be the most important part of Yoga practice. Lying on one’s back with arms and legs splayed out, eyes closed and breathing deeply, Shavasana is intended to integrate one’s Yoga practice and rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Although I would eventually use this Yogic term as a playful name for my Art Gallery/Café on Mayne Island, it was also a metaphoric and tacit recognition of my personal need for rejuvenation & healing after many years of pain.