Stinking Fish collective potter Ann Semple's work

Artists collective connects top talents with the public

Stinking Fish fall studio tour a success at West-Mont Montessori school

Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller, said that “in union there is strength.”

This aphorism applies doubly when you’re an artist. Finding opportunities to connect with the public and promote yourself is always a challenge, especially when you’d rather be creating art than marketing it.

But what if you were to approach promotion as a team? That’s the idea behind Stinking Fish, a collective of artists located across Metchosin and East Sooke who have been working together to market their art to the public for more than a decade.

“The idea was to let people know there are artists out here – there are good artists out here,” says Ann Semple, a potter and member of the collective for the past dozen years.

If you’re wondering about the name, Metchosin is the anglicized version of the First Nations phrase Smets-Schosen, which translates to “place of stinking fish.”

The group members’ mediums range from metalwork to mosaic, fibre to furniture, printmaking to pottery and all points between. Members include both working artists and those who juggle art and another job, but the talent level is top-tier: all potential members are subject to a jury process. “We want to keep the level (of quality) high,” Semple says.

The early days of Stinking Fish began with a summer studio tour, a few days each summer where artists opened their studios to the public and allowed patrons to glimpse how process becomes product.

Since then, the group has expanded to include a fall tour, which this year was held in a single place, West-Mont Montessori School, uniting the artists under one roof.

For those who missed out, Semple says it’s possible to contact individual member studios to see if you can drop by to purchase some of their work.

“Almost anybody who makes art is happy to have people call and say, ‘Can I come and see?’ because what’s the point of making this stuff if no one sees it?” she says.

A list of Stinking Fish member studios is available at http://stinkingfishstudiotour.com/

Johanna Henderson is a volunteer with the West Shore Arts Council and principal with Shelter Creative Services.