It didn’t take long for Michelle Barkway to become fully immersed in the vibrant Vancouver Island arts scene.
Arriving from Edmonton three years ago, Barkway was irresistibly drawn to West Coast art.
“When we moved here I started taking art classes and really got interested in doing workshops,” said Barkway, who comes from a biology background in Edmonton. “It’s just got such a different feel on the Island. Markets are bigger, there’s just more outlets for creativity.”
That creativity inspired Barkway to open Curate Gallery and Workshop this summer in Cadboro Bay Village.
“That was sort of the catalyst to have a nice space here to host classes, because there’s nothing around Cadboro Bay like that.”
The gallery sells original art and handmade goods, all sourced from Vancouver Island.
“I thought it would be really nice to showcase what we have on the Island. And so when we were looking for pieces, we thought we don’t need to look any farther, and then I can really get to know the artists and the makers,” said Barkway, who has been approached by artists from Vancouver and farther afield. “I don’t want to be rude, but it’s like I don’t need you, there’s lots of great stuff here [on the Island].”
Curate also provides workshops to help aspiring artists reach their potential, offering painting workshops as well as classes on drawing and calligraphy.
“We bring in professional working artists, most of them being featured at the Moss Street Paint Ins,” said Barkway, adding classes start in September. “They’re small classes, maximum six people, so it’s really intimate and you get lots of help.”
The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Barkway, who lives in Cadboro Bay herself, said she has received an awesome response from her neighbours since the gallery opened.
“I love being part of a community like this, so I wanted to build kind of a community space where people can come and do workshops or just pop in and say hello,” she said.