Christiaan Van de Water’s original artwork will soon be on display, thanks to the efforts of his children and the Metchosin Community House.
The Holland-born artist (1914-1996) accumulated a vast collection of oil paintings, sculptures, handmade furniture and more over his lifetime of artistry.
Many of those unique pieces will be showcased this weekend in an exhibit playfully called “The Old Man’s Art Show.”
Van de Water’s talents emerged early in life when he illustrated his primary school textbooks with crayon sketches of fish and wildlife. That passion for creating stayed with him as he grew older, but increasing responsibilities led him to train formally as a woodworker, and eventually become a union carpenter in Victoria.
He brought his family to Metchosin in 1955, seeking a quieter, simpler life of farming and creative pursuits. They stayed four years, making a living from the farm, while Van de Water supplemented his income by playing with Victoria’s top dance band, The Bert Zala Orchestra.
The family was doing well until disaster struck and they lost the bulk of their sheep to a pack of dogs. In the face of defeat, Van de Water moved his family to a farm in southern Ontario to try his hand at farming there, but a string of harsh luck kept the dream of self-sustainability at bay. He finally abandoned the land for a return to Vancouver Island.
Van de Water began painting in earnest after the move back to the Island and found his voice on canvas. “(As a painter), as well as striving to find your palette, you have to find out how you want to express yourself,” says his son, Chris Van de Water, 67 and a Metchosin resident since 1978.
“(My father) ended up doing landscapes and some portraits, and it slowly morphed into some of his more philosophical paintings.”
The exhibit will feature between 30 and 40 original pieces by Van de Water, ranging from oil paintings to folk style hand-crafted furniture, showcasing the wide range of mediums he used. Chris says it’s a chance for his family to reconnect and ensure their father’s talent is preserved. “We’re going to get all the pieces together and get a (photo) and make an album for posterity’s sake.”
The event runs Dec. 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Metchosin Community House, 4430 Happy Valley Rd.