Prospective Artist-in-Residence program would ‘book-end’ Campbell River arts and culture

The work to restore the Walter Morgan shack– located behind Sybil Andrews’ Cottage in Willow Point –was begun by Campbell River Rotary, and the scope of that work will be expanded thanks to recently-announced funding from the City of Campbell River.

Ken Blackburn, executive director of the Campbell River Arts Council, hopes that the building, once the restoration is finished, will host an Artist-in-Residence, similar to the Writer-in-Residence program hosted by the Haig-Brown House on the banks of the Campbell River.

“We’re very excited about that building being brought into the very functional fold of some of the plans we have for public workshop space and possible Artist-in-Residence space,” Blackburn announced to those gathered at the Sybil Andrews Day celebration at the cottage April 19.

The Artist-in-Residence program would be similar to the Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence program in that it will be a prestigious, competitive grant that will see a working Canadian artist relocate to Campbell River for a period of time, put on public workshops and engage the community. It will be different in that it won’t be a “live-in” kind of situation, just due to the building itself.

“It’ll be a working studio residency,” Blackburn says, “but the artist would have to be billeted or put up somewhere, which isn’t ideal, but it’s not uncommon, either.”

The idea, Blackburn says, would be to divide the Walter Morgan Shed into three sections: one for Arts Council storage (its current use), one for the Artist-in-Residence to work in, and a third where the public would come for workshops, one-on-one consultations between artists or other public engagement activities.

The artist residency could compliment the Haig-Brown program in that it would likely be a spring/summer/fall residency, with the Writer-in-Residence being a winter program.

And like the Writer-in-Residence program, “where we try to switch up genres,” Blackburn says, “we could switch up mediums here. One year we target a sculptor, the next we could target a painter, that kind of thing.”

There’s currently no timeline on the program, but Blackburn says it’s not out of the realm of possibility to target the first one to take place next year, depending on how the work progresses on the shed from this latest round of funding from the city.

“What a great legacy for the arts and culture of our community to have the Writer-in-Residence at the Haig-Brown House at the north end and an Artist-in-Residence down here at the Sybil Andrews property in the Walter Morgan Shed,” Campbell River mayor Andy Adams told the crowd at the Sybil Andrews Day. “That will really book-end our community from an arts and culture perspective, so I think that’s a really great vision.”