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Saanich Peninsula artists re-open their studio doors with ArtSea tour

The studio tour featuring 30 artists runs Oct. 15 to 16
Sheena Lott, Wendy Pierson Diamond, Debbie Elkins, Wendy Duffield, Wendy Picken (top row), Ken Faulks and Steve Chmilar (bottom row) are among the 30 artists opening their studios to locals during the 2022 ArtSea Studio Tour, running Oct. 15 to 16. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A highlight on the local arts calendar returns to its full form this weekend when 30 artists from around the Saanich Peninsula open their studios to audiences as part of the 2022 ArtSea Studio Tour.

The tour – which runs Saturday to Sunday (Oct. 15 to 16) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day – gives residents a chance to see local artists in their working environment, to peek behind the scenes so to speak. The tour last happened as an in-person event in October 2019.

Organizer Wendy Picken, who works out of her Mango Smile Studio at 10131 Pleasant St. in Sidney, said she has already heard from people who cannot wait to visit the various studios spread across Sidney and North Saanich. “And the artists are really excited. It feels like there is energy again and we are really looking forward to sharing our studios and our work,” said Picken, who finger paints without paint, combining Stabilo crayon, pastel, china marker and wax polish.

One of those artists is Wendy Duffield, who works out of her Magnolia Art Studio at 1931 Sandover Cres. in North Saanich. Duffield actually plans to take the experience a step further by setting up an outdoor gallery to display her mixed media collages, sculptures and wearable art, which she creates out of found objects.

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“I did study to be a jeweller when I was living in Australia and I changed from being a jeweller using traditional materials to using found objects, which are also just as precious as traditional materials,” she said.

“People ask me to integrate these precious objects into a new piece of art that they can wear and pass it down. So while the materials individually are not precious, they combine to create a new kind of precious work.”

The making of something also runs as a theme through the tour itself. “Art is such a personal thing and when I have opened up the studio, there are people from all walks of life with all kinds of experiences,” said Picken. “And there are people who are going through maybe some challenging times and when you meet them in person, there is a bond and a connection forged.”

Picken said the studio tour and the artists who participate in it are a little bit of everything.

“We are a little bit of therapists, we are a little bit of friend,” she said. “It’s not just always about the art. It’s really about making a personal connection and art facilities that opening of the heart and emotions and life experience. It’s something else and I get goosebumps every time I talk about it.”

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