Free Spirit @ Gabriola Island
i. My Name: Catherine Hallam
ii. My Work:
Over the years I have studied and have degrees in business, fashion, visual art, design and education. My own work is informed by textiles (screenprinting) as well as a variety of experimental drawing and painting techniques. I enjoy working large-scale and exploring the character of the human face, personas, and the natural environment.
iii. The name of my gallery + its opening date:
Free Spirit Gallery Studio & Shop opened November 29, 2021.
Photos by Stephanie Artuso
iv. In describing the gallery in 3 sentences or less, I’d say:
Free Spirit Gallery Studio & Shop is an art space on beautiful Gabriola Island showcasing local contemporary art and goods from emerging to established artists on Gabriola and across BC. We aim to be a space for people to come and immerse themselves in a creative space for creating, collecting and appreciating visual arts.
v. I was inspired to open the gallery because:
We have not had a gallery and shop in the main village for 3 years, I knew I could fill that gap and need. I have taught Art & Design and been involved in various arts organizations for almost 20 years. I wanted to create an arts based business that our community would benefit from. Gabriola is known as ‘The Isle of the Arts,’ it ranks sixth across Canada with respect to concentration of artists in the local workforce. Our community is full of artists across all the arts and is fortunate to be a supportive community of art appreciators.
vi. One thing that has surprised me since opening the gallery:
The tremendous support from the community (both artists and customers) and visitors. There is a sense of great appreciation that local art and artisanal goods can be found here again in one central place. Everyone loves the curation and spacious bright feel of the gallery.
vii. Unique things about the art scene on Gabriola Island:
Some of the wonderful established Gabriolan artists we have in the gallery currently are: Tammy Hudgeon, Elsa Bluethner, Karen Cain, Steven Cole, Paige Coull, Deborah Dallyn and Tyrrell Clarke. We also have emerging artists and artisans such as Nerissa Layton, Sandra and Aryn Bowers, and Jade Krupa. Other BC artists whose work we show are Deborah Briggs, Natasha Harvey and Laurie Burns.
viii. Future plans for the gallery include:
In Spring 2022 we will be opening the ‘Free Spirit Studio’ offering classes and workshops for kids & adults using a process based approach. In addition, like many small businesses during these times, I am trying to be creative and develop a larger online presence and better online reach, may work will be available online over the coming year.
ix. Anything to add:
It has been a huge leap and risk to open a gallery in these times of turmoil but I also know this brings a boon of creativity, that challenges are made to be risen to. It is an exciting time to be in the arts sector right as social strife and political unrest have led to some of the most profound artistic movements. In looking at the world right now, which is in tremendous turmoil, I am wondering what the art world will look like in the next few years, as we slowly come through all of this anxiety.
Gabriola is no exception, artists like Elsa Bluethner, Nerissa Layton and Hilary Farmer’s work has evolved tremendously over the last few years. This is a fascinating thriving arts community and I feel honored to be representing artists who have entrusted me with promoting their creations. This small but diverse place draws artists, performers, poets, eccentrics, intellectuals, and free spirits more than any place I’ve lived in the world. People living by their own terms with this natural beauty as their muse.