Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oceans of Art - Day 1

I just returned from Bamfield where I attended the Oceans of Art event (a bit more about that shortly) with a number of other Federation of Canadian Artists members. It was a fantastic weekend of action-packed days where we experienced the marine environment of the far West Coast in all its glory.

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Our trip began at Port Alberni early in the morning when we met at the Lady Rose Marine Services docks to board the MV Frances Barkley. Just over 30 artists and some non-painting partners lugged bags and boxes of art equipment and camera gear on board, then got settled in for the 3 hour trip out to Bamfield.

We spent our time getting to know each other, reconnecting with friends, and putting faces to names that many of us recognized, whose art we'd seen in one show or another. We also met some of the locals, who rely on boats to get around. We stopped for freight and passenger delivery at Kildonan, a tiny community just at the mouth of Alberni Inlet, as it opens out into Barkley Sound. Eventually we made our way into Bamfield Inlet, and pulled up at the Marine Station's dock.

Our first trip of many up the hill from the docks to the station buildings took us to our rather luxurious dormitory accommodation at Buchanan Lodge. We had a group meeting and then a tour of the facilities: many labs, a library, the Whale Lab with tanks and touch pool full of amazing living organisms, the unique scallop-shaped architecture of the Rix Centre (with lecture and conference halls, as well as laboratory facilities, and a beautiful cold-water aquarium full of wonderful fish and invertebrates).

We wandered around, taking photos, sketching, and getting a feel for the facilities, then met again for dinner. The food at Bamfield is plentiful, great tasting, and well received.

To wrap up the day, we were treated to a painting demonstration by naturalist and coastal artist, Mark Hobson. He started with a slide show of his work, and where he works: his floating studio just outside of Tofino. Mark strives to capture the feel and experience of a diver underwater amongst the kelp forests and their inhabitants. He is a master of the play of light passing through kelp fronds, filtering down from the surface, reflecting off the backs and sides of his subjects as they swim through the image.

'Tiger Rockfish' - Mark Hobson -
Tiger Rockfish - Mark Hobson

Now, more about Oceans of Art. In return for our fantastic weekend of wonder and inspiration, each artist will be donating at least one piece of art worth a minimum amount for an exhibition to be held from June 11 - 29, 2009 at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. The proceeds from the sale of the artwork go towards sponsoring the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre's Public Education Program:
Our National Award-Winning Public Education Program provides multi-day immersion field trips for school, college and adult learners. While our focus is on marine and coastal sciences, we encourage custom programs that make use of the incredible environments and people of Vancouver Island's West Coast. As part of our commitment to community we are involved in stewardship and conservation projects as well as facilitating innovative and extremely successful volunteer work experiences for young scientists.

So the funds go to support the program, and to help schools to afford to attend the program, as there's not much help coming from government.

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