Three BC Artists Studio Visits

Caily Oldershaw

A Studio of Her Own – Written by Andrea Johannson

Photo credit Solyana Oldershaw

You can feel the excitement in Caily Oldershaw’s description of her new workplace. “Having a studio space outside my home has been a real game changer for me.” Previously Caily worked in a tiny living area while ‘navigating around’ her twin daughters. Recently, Caily procured a ‘room of her own’, renting the visual arts space at the Calvin Cruk Centre for the Performing Arts in Dawson Creek.

Caily’s new studio space has become ‘like a sanctuary, almost free of distractions’. While she paints (oils), she listens to music, artist’s interviews, online critiques, and lectures—and often simply silence. Because Caily wanted to protect her children from toxic chemicals while painting at home, she developed a technique without solvents: Subsequently, this technique lends itself to her signature style.

While nature stimulates Caily’s interest, bees are her particular passion. Raised on an apiary, and influenced by the research and knowledge of father and grandfather, she comes by this fascination naturally. Though allergic to bee stings, Caily continues the family legacy by photographing and painting bees.
After Caily sees her daughters off to school, she spends the rest of the day in her studio and paints until it is time to pick up her children. Once a month she teaches a painting workshop at Diamond Willow Retreat, located just a few minutes east of Dawson Creek.

Although she is very happy with her studio, Caily hopes eventually to move to a country home-and-studio setup. She dreams of painting all winter and gardening all summer; while all the while, creating to her heart’s content.


Kit Fast

Destination Unknown – Written by Kit Fast

Kit Fast - 1662

Having a dedicated 10’ x 20’ studio space is new to me. For three months now, I have rented the top floor of a house owned by author and photographer Don Pettit. I think a studio allows for things to find their place. Objects become subjects when they sit in relation to each other. Photographs, texts, found objects, and tools become active in the imagination while you work within the studio space.

I grew up in Dawson Creek and returned 10 years ago to live and work in my home town. Most of my work begins with the photograph. This includes printing images on canvas to be cut and stitched together and photos placed into assemblage sculpture. I am now experimenting with iPhone panoramas and explorations in clay sculpture.

Changes on the land through development and resource extraction continue to inspire my work. To understand a ‘place’ requires curiosity tempered with patience and a willingness to approach the familiar from many perspectives, using many materials and media.

Recent work involved the mapping of ‘place’ through assemblage sculpture. Each place is mapped by collecting and combining a found object with a carved map, a text in the form of a journal entry and a reference to industry—usually with threaded rods, bolts and washers. This reincarnation of place through experience hints at the relationships that enliven the land. It’s always exciting to start a day’s hike or a day in the studio with an unpredictable destination.

Shannon Butler

Kilnhouse Studio – Written by Andrea Johannson


From the first moment she saw it, Shannon knew that the studio space she christened Kilnhouse Studio, would suit her needs. Replete with a sunlit zone in front, to the large high-ceilinged space in back, Shannon felt that she could ‘think big’ in these rooms. This is home to her wheel, clay, tables and kiln.

Originally she lived in the studio; cooking on a hotplate and fending off prairie winters. Hence she feels a strong sentimental tie to this space—where she creates her electric-fired porcelaneous stoneware.

Shannon maintains a gruelling six day work week. From the time she dons her work apron and turns on CBC Radio, to the minute she gets home to man and dog, Shannon uses her time to update her social media and create her remarkable pottery. “There is a huge amount of solitude [here] which feels totally natural at this point,” she says.

Shannon opens her studio to the public every week. Thus, she satisfies her desire to socialize while embracing her need to produce new work efficiently. Shannon’s philosophy, deeply rooted from her upbringing, declares “Ceramics are similar to farming in that every day there is something new to do and chances are that it has everything to do with what you did yesterday.” Mugs are produced one day, trimmed the next and handles added. While they are fully drying, many other projects are started. Shannon may be working on ‘17 different things’ since timing is everything with clay. While she is adamant about keeping each piece one-off, Shannon produces work in a series, maintaining that ‘craftsmanship is key’.

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