Artist transforms old library into collaborative community

Studio/gallery making use of defunct school space

Linda Simrose

Amongst the shadows of children’s laughter and concentrated silent reading, Linda Simrose has created a gathering place for artists in the former Metchosin elementary library, invoking a sense of inspiration and collaboration for all who go there.

“I had a studio at the Coast Collective, but I outgrew it,” Simrose says. “It was just too small and so I wandered into here. I was just looking for a studio.”

GLOW Art Studio and Gallery, large and brightly lit by previous tenant, the Metchosin Art Gallery, was more than Simrose needed for a solitary workspace. She soon had the idea to bring in other artists and make a place where creative individuals could interact. She designated Sundays as the ‘social’ day.

“As an artist, you often spend so much of your time alone,” she says. “I’ve invited all my other artist friends and we’ve really mixed it up. We just love it, because that’s really the only time we get to be around other artists.”

The gallery has something new around each corner, behind each wall. Oil paintings of orchids, watercolour scenes from local waterways and more unusual mediums as well. A glass-and-resin birdbath fused to a roughened stone graces the window display, one of Simrose’s latest pieces. Mosaic tiles beautify small rocks, glass jewelry hangs from ancient wooden stands, iron and stainless steel chickens strut across the walls with their fork-feet.

“Linda’s definitely the driving force here,” says Catherine Lang, an author and regular attendee of the Sunday gatherings. “All of the creative energy and the artists who come here and bounce their ideas off each other – it’s very inspiring and fun.”

Being able to foster a supportive community has been incredibly rewarding for Simrose.

“It’s important to me. I’ve been an artist my whole life, and when you’re trying to do everything on your own, learning everything on your own … it would have been easier if I’d had artist friends.”

The success of the gallery and the community that has sprung up within it is partly due to the history of the building itself, says Simrose, who opened the gallery on May 1.

“You can smell how old it is,” she says, laughing. “Every morning that I walk in, you can tell it’s a very old building. It just has a feeling to it, an energy to it. It’s charming in its old kind of way.”

The retired graphic artist is thrilled to be able to “play” in the space. “Every morning I jump out of bed, excited to get here. It just feels right.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/GlowArtStudioandGallery.

acowan@goldstreamgazette.com