Monday 6 April 2015

Island dreams

The first annual Festival Active Pass is taking place in the southern Gulf Islands this month and it happens to be based on Mayne Island - my new home-away-from-home. It is self-described as "a must-do event for naturalists, birders, photographers, visual artists and arts enthusiasts, historians, families and children" and will feature exhibitions, performances, workshops and excursions, all of which are "inspired by the natural beauty of the area and the welcoming residents of the islands". It's the kind of event that's tailor-made for a bird-loving artist and I had signed up enthusiastically early on this year. When life took a terrible turn a couple of months ago, I cleared my calendar of all art commitments except this one.

It makes sense that the Gulf Islands would host a festival such as this. Active Pass is internationally designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA), and you can read more about what that means by clicking here. Not only does Mayne Island's western shoreline border Active Pass, the island is home to a couple of components of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, a piece of which is on Bennett Bay, just a stone's throw from Horton Bay and the little yellow cottage my husband and I acquired last year.

Although the dreams we had for our "little piece of paradise" turned to dust with my husband's sudden passing, my love for the place lives on. Enough repairs have been made in the short time since we acquired it that, while it's still a bit rough around the edges, the cottage is ready to be lived in. It must now be a place where new dreams are made, and be a refuge for healing and reflection. It will also become a place of inspiration and art-making where I can wander down to the beach and see sights like the male surf scoters (pictured below) that I observed last fall on the calm waters of Seal Bay near Comox. I have chosen a space in the cottage that I have set up as a mini art studio. 

"Bachelor Brothers: Wintering Surf Scoters" (Coloured pencil)

During Festival Active Pass I'll have a piece or two hanging in the art exhibition at the Mayne Island Agricultural Hall. I'll also be taking part in the Artists' Market at the Community Centre. Mingling with like-minded bird and nature lovers and with the artists who call the Gulf Islands home will give me a chance get to know the community a little better, and vice-versa.

Anyone interested in learning more about Festival Active Pass can find out more at

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