Artisans get hands on at Winterfest 

Three-day show highlights amateur talent

By Cindy Filipenko

Marnie Simon is back for a second year of organizing Winterfest’s Artisan’s Exhibition and is ready for surprises.

“Last year the First Nations artists set up a table of food, beautiful smoked salmon and bannock, for participants to enjoy. Then a tour bus full of Japanese tourist descended on the hotel and scarfed down the entire thing,” remembers Simon, with a laugh.

“I’ll be looking out for that bus this year!”

Undoubtedly, the tourists went away with the feeling that Pemberton was an incredibly hospitable town. However this event, and the fact that many artists were complaining about crumbs on artwork, forced the decision to have it be a tea and coffee event. But the change in refreshments isn’t the only thing new.

In addition to fibre arts, jewelry design, woodwork, beadwork, metal work, painting and sculpture, this year’s Artisan’s Exhibit will feature both leather work and taxidermy.

“I don’t know if I’m going to show up and there’ll be a stuffed moose at the door or what!”

Simon sees the main difference between an artisan and an artist as that artisan practices his or her craft without it being their primary livelihood.

While the event is sponsored by Pemberton’s seniors, who will be on hand hosting the event, it is in no way “a seniors only event”.   The artists range from a college student gold and silversmith to a 96-year-old woman who practices a variety of intricate needlework.

The older woman is Vin Dougherty, who also knits and specializes in smocking.

“Smocking? Well, it’s embroidering over finely gathered pleats. It was very popular in children’s clothing 25 or 30 years ago. They used it when making little gathered bodices. It’s not easy,” emphasized Simon.

As with last year’s show, the focus remains on using natural materials, whether as applied to multi-media artwork using forest found objects or the wools and silks used by the weavers.

“There’s Barb Eslake, who has a llama and alpaca farm in Owl Ridge. She raises the llamas and alpacas, shears them, carts their wool and weaves it — it doesn’t get much more natural than that,” says the organizer.

This year, attendees will get a chance to see people like Eslake and Dougherty demonstrating their crafts onsite. Many of the crafts will be for sale, with 10 per cent of the proceeds going to help line Winterfest coffers.

More than 25 local artisans, from Pemberton to D’Arcy, are expected to participate over the three-day exhibition from Feb. 9 to 11 at The Pemberton Valley Lodge. Each day will feature a different type of artwork. The exhibit is open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday,

“On Friday, is fibre arts, Saturday we have First Nations art and Sunday is kind of potpourri,” said Simon.

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