Mary and Steve Barker say the rock display outside their James Bay home brings smiles to many who pass by. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

French fries to juicy tomatoes, rock art brings joy to walkers in Victoria

James Bay yard filled with painted rocks delights all ages

The beef kebab, baked potato and corn on the cob sizzling on a barbecue outside Mary and Steve Barker’s James Bay home might make a passerby hungry, but biting into one of the many meals on display outside the home would be a big mistake.

The summer barbecue dinner, along with a charcuterie board, apple pie, jar of pickles and case of Ferrero Rocher, is made entirely from rocks.

Mary started working on the rock art display in 2014.

“I was looking for garden ornaments and they’re really expensive,” Mary said. “I like to make my own stuff so I went to the beach and tried to find things that would last in the weather.”

What she found were rocks that looked like french fries.

“And then we find another piece shaped exactly like a piece of steak,” she said. “I noticed the shape of things, the texture of things. And that’s how I started.”

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria Indigenous artist takes unique approach to COVID-19 masks

James Bay artist Mary Barker was inspired to create rock art when she went looking for inexpensive lawn ornaments. Instead, she found rocks shaped like fries and a steak. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

The ‘rock artist’ also makes needlepoint rugs, drawer knobs, quilts, stained glass and more. But her rock display, in a more typical summer season, draws pedicabs and tourists to her front yard.

And it isn’t just food on display – although the bowls of juicy tomatoes, hard-boiled-eggs and crumpets of all kinds would be enough – Mary’s garden also features Russian nesting dolls, a violin, a laptop and an ashtray, complete with half-smoked rock cigarettes. The details are minute – down to the silver of the Diet Coke can and McDonald’s ‘M’ on an order of medium ‘rock’ fries.

Mary says sometimes the rocks, most found on the beach off Dallas Road, decide what they will be. One rock looked so much like a car that she had no choice but to paint on wheels and a windshield.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Mary has noticed an uptick on visits to her website – the URL is displayed on a ‘rock computer’ in the yard.

She speculates more locals are out exploring the neighbourhood since many businesses are closed.

“Everybody says it makes them smile and even when I make them, they make me feel happy,” she said with a laugh. “I hope they have a good feeling when they walk by.”

Steve, who does most of the gardening, says they get plenty of comments.

“People are really appreciative, I find. They love telling their friends about it,” he said. “It does bring a smile to people’s faces.”

The painted rock display is located on Niagara Street in James Bay. For more information visit rock-art.ca.

art exhibitVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Saanich makes ALC appeal for Prospect Lake Elementary parking, portables

Council votes in favour of seeking non-farm use designation

Island Health issues Victoria overdose advisory

Health authority warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

Residents welcomed to The Summit in Victoria’s Quadra Village

Modern 320-bed facility designed for people with complex care needs including dementia

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read