Township looks to showcase local artistic talent

Heidelberg resident and quilter Marilyn Farquhar is one of the six artists whose works are being featured at the Woolwich Township art gallery, which is housed in the administration building on Church Street in Elmira. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

There is a surfeit of artistic talent right here in the townships, evident through such events as the local Art in the Park and the Kissing Bridge Trail Studio Tour. But often, that local talent can be overshadowed by the larger scene in the neighbouring cities.

Hoping to give local creators another platform to shine on, the Township of Woolwich has launched an the Artists of Woolwich Gallery at its administration offices in Elmira. The gallery, which has already begun to take shape, will have an official unveiling next month with a special reception event.

“The idea came together because as an organization, we really feel that it’s important to support all facets of our economy, which includes our arts and culture and the creative economy,” said Raj Sian, the economic development and tourism officer with the township.

“We wanted to be able to provide the artists of Woolwich, of which there are many different types,” added Sian.

“There’s paintings, there’s quilts, there’s pottery, there’s jewelry. There’s a whole bunch of different mediums that we have available in Woolwich from our local artists, that we wanted them to be able to provide them with a space to be able to showcase their creativity.”

For Marilyn Farquhar, one of the artists being featured in township’s gallery, the medium of choice is threads and stitches.

“I’m in quilting,” she explained. “I would say I’m a modern and contemporary quilter.”

Farquhar typically designs her own pattern arrangements using a combination of high-tech software and good old-fashioned grit.

Farquhar has already established herself beyond the boundaries of the township as an artists, doing some commission quilt work as well as providing lectures and participating in trunk shows all over.  However, she’s excited about the opportunity to showcase her talents at home as well.

“I think it’s really good for some artists that don’t have a lot of venues to get their work out there. In my particular case, my work is getting out there now on an international stage. So I’m sort of going backwards to get to the local level,” says Farquhar of the Woolwich Gallery.

Elmira painter Kathy McKee, whose works are also set to be featured at the gallery, says she’s pleased to see the township giving local artists the extra level of support. McKee is also volunteering her time to help the gallery curate new contributions from other local artists.

“I was very happy because I’ve been waiting for this for quite a while, that the township would put a little more into the arts,” she said.

For McKee, painting is a hobby, and her works feature lush, colourful scenes and lively portraits.

The gallery will feature a rotating roster of exhibits, with different artists and artworks being hosted every three months. Anyone living in the township may apply to have their works included in the gallery in upcoming months, says Sian.

“We’re planning to have about four different artist showcases every year, so one each quarter. We have a working committee of artists, volunteers, that are local to the community who are going to be in-taking submissions,” she said.

“It’s really an opportunity to ensure that any artist in Woolwich has an opportunity to showcase their piece.”

Those interested in seeing their works displayed in future galleries are encouraged to reach out to the township.

“One of the key goals of the next showcase, entitled ‘Dreams’, is to focus on children’s artwork as well. And so we have reached out to some of the local schools and daycare centres to ask if there’s any type of work that they would like to submit on behalf of their classrooms, or on behalf of their children in their classrooms,” said Sian.

The Artists of Woolwich Gallery reception will be held on September 13, between 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the township administration office, 24 Church St. W. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with some of the local artists during the reception; however the gallery will be open to the public anytime during regular business hours as well.

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