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Great Island Arts Co-op

Spring-Summer 2017 Newsletter

/ By Faith Wiley

Hello Friends!

We are having a wonderful season on Great Island. We had a number of exciting applications for the 2017 Spring and Summer Pilot Residency, and we are welcoming twelve artists over a two and a half month period. Our first two artists, Phoebe Todd-Parrish (Toronto/Edmonton) and Graeme Shorten Adams (Montréal), were here for the last two weeks of May.

Phoebe at work (photo by Phoebe-Todd Parrish).

Phoebe’s practice focuses on the notion of desire for connection and communication in living and non-living things (present/absent, material/imagined) in a shared environment. In an ever-more augmented reality, distinctions between reality and fiction become blurred, affecting our interpersonal relationships through miscommunication, misrepresentation or paramnesia. Through printmaking, animation and drawing, Phoebe’s work attempts to conjure spaces where inner/outer “worlds” can coalesce, exploring themes of loneliness–and its distinction from aloneness–through narrative worldbuilding.

The third floor studio (photo by Phoebe-Todd Parrish).

Work in progress (photo by Phoebe-Todd Parrish).

Visit Phoebe’s website at or follow her on Instagram @flycatcherpress.

Graeme at work (photo by Faith Wiley).

Graeme is a cartoonist who tries to use the medium as flexibly and thoughtfully as possible. He likes to make comics about history and information overloads.

A page from Graeme’s gorgeous comic in progress (photo by Graeme Shorten Adams).

Visit Graeme’s website at or follow him on Instagram @foreshortening.

It was a pleasure to have them in the house. It was inspiring to be around two such dedicated and hard-working people! The sheer number of hours they both put in was amazing to see. We will post a link to Graeme’s comic and Phoebe’s zine when they are online.

Two new residents just arrived at the end of last week.

Natalka at work (photo by Natalka Proszak).

Natalka Proszak is an interdisciplinary artist and writer based in Montréal, QC.  Her work explores the notion of community through themes relating to ancestral memory, collective unconscious, and identity adopted theologies. Visit Natalka’s website at or follow her on Instagram at @pattyhearstofficial.

Janessa at work (photo by Ned Zimmerman).

Janessa Brunet is an artist and arts educator from Winnipeg living in Toronto. Working between photography and illustration, Janessa will be exploring the intersections of identity and place, using the island itself as a starting point. Visit Janessa’s website at or follow her on Instagram at @janessabrunet.

A morning hike along the coast (photo by Janessa Brunet).

Foggy day on the beach (photo by Natalka Proszak).

It has been a great time so far, with lots of exploring the island on foot and collecting rocks and other objects from the forest.

On June 9th we have a new resident arriving.

Elise Boudreau Graham is an interdisciplinary artist who works with installation, soft sculpture, printed matter, and object collection.  She is based in Montréal, QC.  Her practice explores the politics of interpersonal relationships, private versus public spaces, and the navigation of feminine bodies through these spheres; in particular the performance of gendered labour.

On June 15th we have three new residents arriving.

Emerging playwright Jess Glavina (Montréal) and social work student and youth co-ordinator Hepzibeth Lee (Victoria) are collaborating to write a play based on interviews Lee conducted in 2016. A different take on the model minority, The Other Side of the Glass places the migration stories of a handful of East Asian Canadians side by side, exposing both the fragmentation of familial history and struggles to communicate about mental health across generational and language gaps.

Meghan Gagliardi (Montréal) writes poetry about memory, intimacy and ecologies of and between bodies. She studies feminist geography and works on the collaborative and collective transformation of the university towards inclusion, representation, and visibility.

In July, we have four artists coming.

Amélie Brindamour (Montréal) is an artist and art educator exploring environmental and urban issues through place-specific projects including eat-art, temporary actions, photography and participatory performances. She favors art and education initiatives that have an impact on and help fostering communities, as wells as contexts that encourage inclusion, collaboration and experimentation.

Alexandra Bachmayer and Jay Alexander Brown (Montréal) are multidisciplinary artists whose site-specific Great Island project explores the life cycles of trees and forests along with their sensory perceptions and intricate inter-member connections, reflecting and interpreting them through sound, verse, and illustration.

Erin Whittier (Toronto) is a lens-based artist working with the landscape. She uses performance and poetic text to unravel the turbulence of contemporary life and to come into contact with earth’s animate flesh, probing into the interconnectedness, or brute unity, that binds us all with the natural world.

We are have been doing lots of work around the property as well. The pier is finally finished!

The completed pier, with rough hemlock deck installed (photo by Ned Zimmerman).

The garden is expanding, with the most recent addition being a lavender patch.

The garden (photo by Ned Zimmerman).

There is a new outdoor solar shower under construction, and we are replacing the floor in the garden shed to make a new studio space that is separate from the main house.

Our new greeting cards (drawings by Cecilia McKinnon, photo by Ned Zimmerman).

Last but not least, we have greeting cards for sale of two drawings of the Great Island house by 2016 artist in residence Cecilia McKinnon. They will be available for sale very soon on our website and at The Port Grocer, 1615 Port Medway Road, Port Medway, Nova Scotia (or you can email if you are in Nova Scotia and would like to arrange to purchase them in person).

In the coming months we will have more updates from the 2017 Spring and Summer Pilot Residency, and information about next year’s programming.

Thanks for reading, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.