Colwood resident Malcolm Barker takes a break from painting to join Nikola Mende

Colwood resident Malcolm Barker takes a break from painting to join Nikola Mende

Pacifica Housing showcases its tenants’ talents around Greater Victoria

Colwood artist has gained stability through housing

You may have noticed some new artwork hanging on the walls of businesses across the region.

The fifth annual Pacifica Housing art exhibit showcases almost 70 pieces from roughly 30 artists. But these individuals share a special connection with Pacifica.

“Every tenant was invited to participate,” said Nikola Mende, Pacifica Housing Advisory Association’s manager of fund development. She added that organizers were blown away by the submissions they received. “It gives tenants a chance to express themselves and be heard … They’re incredibly talented.”

Pacifica is a provider of affordable housing and support services in Greater Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo. With 33 buildings and almost 1,000 units, Pacifica provides homes for more than 1,500 people.

One of the artists showcasing his work is Colwood resident Malcolm Barker. “I thought this was a way to give back to the community … I wanted to be able to contribute to people being able to find affordable housing.”

Barker, like the other artists in the show, has a deep connection with the organization. “My life had a turn of circumstances. We ended up needing somewhere to live,” he said. He ended up in Colwood Lakes, a 34-unit complex on Sooke Road, and it’s been his home for roughly 10 years. Having that stability, he said, has allowed him to follow his passions and that’s something he wants for everyone.

When a painting in the show sells, the artists will receive 80 per cent of the sale price, with the remainder going to Pacifica’s art programs. “It goes back to the artists in a different form,” Mende said, noting that most will go to purchase art materials.

Barker added, “When people are buying a painting, they’re buying a story … It’s nice to know what you’ve created, people value.”

He has five abstract, mixed-medium pieces in the show and describes his process as primarily experimental. “I’m usually working on four or five at once.” With multiple pieces on the go, Barker can work when inspiration strikes and doesn’t often have to wait for a layer or textured element on one piece to dry before he carries on.

While Barker may see something in his pieces, it’s not always what others see. When someone asks him what he sees in his work, Barker said he often turns that question back to the person who asked it, “so I can join their journey.”

“It allows them to be part of that journey too … They too have an ownership in the painting.”

The show runs until the end of this month. Photos of the art are on Pacifica Housing’s Facebook page or can be seen online at Included in the description of the image is the location where it can be found for the duration of the show. For more information on Barker and his work, go to