By: Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
Tables with flowing rivers, hand-carved guitars with embedded personal mementos; magic! The magician is Ron Walmer, who uses the most beautiful slabs of wood and some resin to create enchanting furniture and musical instruments which are shipped all over Canada from his little workshop on the shores of Lake Simcoe.
Mr. Walmer is one of thirty-four artists and artisans who opened their homes and studio to the Georgina Studio Tour visitors. It was a special event – the Georgina Studio Tour celebrated its 25th anniversary! Paul Harpley, an environmentalist and a painter, recalls that it began when he and two of his artist friends, Jeanette Shanks and Bruce Curtis, organized the Art in the Park event in Jackson’s Point. It ran successfully for a few years, steadily expanding, and then a group of local artists transformed it into an annual Georgina Studio Tour.
Mr. Harpley is the only artist from the original group who is still exhibiting! His delicate drawings and paintings of animals and landscapes charm visitors to his studio nestled in rural Georgina. His daughter, Janet Harpley-Aco, who was a child when her father started exhibiting, today herself participates in the Tour, showing her own artistic creations. As a passionate children art teacher, she exhibits handmade colouring books celebrating the beauty of our planet, including our own Georgina!
This year eight new artists joined the Tour. One of them is Karen Watson, the world traveller from Sutton. She exhibited her paintings, photographs, and cards depicting faraway places–and her own backyard! “I am excited to be a part of this event; it’s been a steady flow of visitors. What I like most is that there is a mixture of ages,” says Mrs. Watson. While we talk, Mary Jacobs from Toronto, on her way to her cottage, grabs one of Karen’s photographs depicting Alaska and exclaims: stunning, stunning, stunning!
Karen Watson, Nadya Edwards and Thelma Sellers presented their art in a barn! It was Thelma Sellers who convinced Norma Pegg, the owner of Homestead Orchards, to take artists without studios under her wing, and a wonderful partnership was born. After all, we are a rural community, and barns should be used as art studios, shouldn’t they?
Susanne Cotton, who has been in charge of the Studio Tour for the last fifteen years, opened her workshop to several artists, including the youngest art enthusiast, her 10-year-old granddaughter, Sage. Mrs. Cotton explains that her goal is not only to promote local artists but also to bring tourism to Georgina. She hopes that guest artists from neighbouring communities will draw their followers to the shores of Lake Simcoe.
Many exhibitors presented old-fashioned, almost-forgotten crafts: weaving, quilting, embroidery, press printing, wood carving…. What a feast for the eyes and mind! In our’ use it and lose it’ culture, it is refreshing to meet artists who work slowly, who lovingly select materials and put their heart and soul into their one-of-a-kind creations. All art lovers, mark your calendar for the 2020 Georgina Studio Tour!
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