What is your career background? Are you an artist yourself? My career background is in retail and customer service. I’ve had many different jobs over the years, from cosmetic sales rep to management for a large retail home store, each unique and enjoyable in their own way. I wouldn’t consider myself an artist but, I’ve always been a creative person and come from a family of talented people, from my parents to my young nieces, Reid (11) and Brooke (10), whose talent and creativity continually blow me away. My mom, who has a degree in genealogy, says creativity in our genes.
We emigrated from Scotland in 1967 when I was three years old. Looking back, our family history is filled with woodworkers, silversmiths, and all sorts of artisans. I’ve done many artistic things over the years, from renovating our house, including laying and staining our wood flooring to redoing our kitchen backsplash and hanging new kitchen cabinets. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and I’m always open to giving anything a try. I tell my nieces the word, “can’t” is not in our vocabulary; you can do whatever your heart desires.
Tell us about your journey to owning The Gallery at Mattick’s Farm. I didn’t choose the gallery, it chose me. The journey here was one serendipitous moment after another. I ran into the gallery to purchase a gift one day which led to a much-needed job change. After working for a short time, the owner was approaching retirement and suggested I take over the business. I knew all the ins-and-outs of retail, but when the opportunity came to own the gallery I didn’t feel ready. Owning my own business seemed very daunting and I was still new to the gallery and all its workings.
In the months to follow we had several people interested in purchasing the gallery but for various reasons, it didn’t work out. During this time, my husband kept saying to me, “Are you sure you don’t want to do this? It’s so perfect for you.” He has an entrepreneurial mindset and has always had his own business. I was nervous about owning my own business, but he kept encouraging me to do it.
One morning, several months later, I got up, grabbed my coffee, and said to Peter, “Okay, I’m ready” to which he replied, “Alright let’s do this!” We only had a few weeks to get everything done before the lease was up. It was a whirlwind but so worth it!
I firmly believe that life will lead you where you’re meant to be if you’re open to it. I couldn’t have done this without the love, support, and encouragement of my husband, and the women that work in the gallery. A few of them have been at the gallery for almost twenty years now. I believe it’s important to surround yourself with people that are positive, build you up, believe in you and pick you up if you fall. They’ve helped me a great deal. We’ve not only become a strong team but a family. I love and respect each of them and value them immensely.
What is unique about your gallery? I believe we all offer something different that makes us uniquely individual. There’s such a wealth of talented people on Vancouver Island, I wanted to expand on our already existing group of local artists and artisans. From beautiful paintings, jewelry, metalwork, glass, and pottery, the choices are infinite and allows us the opportunity to offer original art at an affordable price.
It is also integral to my business to create a space that is comfortable and relaxed for our clients to enjoy. Like my own home, this space is sacred to me, a respite from the outside world. I’m very sensitive to the energy we emanate and that of our surroundings, so everything from the choice of music we play to how we interact with our clients is important to creating a relaxed environment.
Do you have criteria for choosing the artists you represent? I choose artists based on a feeling, and if their work fits with our gallery. We have such an amazing core group of artists, all very talented, humble, and some of the nicest people I know. I try to ensure that any new work we bring in doesn’t compete with artists we already represent. We’re always looking at new artists but it’s becoming harder to choose as we only have so much space.
What advice do you have for artists looking for gallery representation? Put yourself out there and if you don’t get into one gallery, try another. It could just be that your style or medium is not what the curator is looking for. We prefer an email introduction with images or a link to a website if they have one. The website allows me to look at a broader range of work they offer. Looking at their site often leads me to something completely different than the work they originally sent me. If we like what we see and think it will fit well with the gallery, then we contact them to see their work in person and go from there.
Tell us about your personal collection of art. When it comes to collecting art, I have eclectic taste. Our house is filled with different pieces, mostly artists we carry in the gallery: Lisa Hebden, Mary Fox, Ellen Statz, Alanna Sparanese, Kylee Turunen, Brenda Walker, April Ponsford, and then there’s jewelry by Doreen Schneider, Darlene LeTendre, Allison Cuthill, and Veronica Stewart. I have the largest collection of art pieces from Joanna Drummond and Roger Belley; I fall in love with everything they make. Joanna’s use of colour is brilliant! Whether it’s her clay houses, (which my husband says I’m not allowed to bring home anymore) her pears, or birds, I love them all. This island is filled with such incredibly talented people.