Artist Donna Sharpe, whose work is shown above, is one of several area artists who will be featured in this weekend’s Art Across the Marsh studio tour. PHOTO SUBMITTED
With a line-up that includes everything from jewelry design to photography, instrument-making to painting, and weaving to pottery, visitors to this weekend’s annual Art Across the Marsh studio tour are likely to be captivated by the wide array of artistic talent that shows just how culturally-diverse the Tantramar and Cumberland regions are.
“We’re really fortunate to have such a wealth of artists in this area,” says tour organizer Robert Lyon, who is also one of the artisans opening up his studio to guests this Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 19-20).
This year’s tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, features 34 artists in 20 studios from Dorchester, Wood Point, Sackville, Jolicure, Midgic, Shemogue, Otter Creek, Baie Verte, Tidnish Bridge, and across the border in Amherst, N.S.
One of those talented, unique artists is Les Jackson, a newcomer to the tour this year.
Jackson, a boat builder by trade, began making custom acoustic instruments about 10 years ago after also having dabbled in designing custom-made furniture, doors and windows.
Jackson says he has always enjoyed working with wood and making custom items from scratch.
“I like wood. I like the feel of it, the smell of it and the look of it,” he says, adding that the various types of woods can bring different sounds to each instrument, depending on what the musician is looking for.
Building instruments has always been something Jackson says he has wanted to try and almost seemed a natural progression from his boat-building years.
For him, crafting things from wood has always been like trying to solve a puzzle.
“You have to have a good idea of where you’re going and then you have to figure out how to get there,” he says.
In the past decade, Jackson has fashioned several octave mandolins, Irish bouzoukis, parlour guitars and tenor guitars and says he can also make other mandolin-family and guitar-family instruments.
Having moved back to the Maritimes with his wife about two years ago, Jackson says he is excited to be part of this year’s studio tour and to open his Sackville home to visitors from all over the region.
“I hope to meet a lot of people,” he says.
Jackson says events like the upcoming studio tour are a great way for home-based artists to get the word out about what they do and to promote themselves to a wider audience.
The Tantramar-Cumberland region has an abundance of artists, which is not really surprising, says Jackson, considering the natural surroundings of the marsh and the waterfowl creatures that offer an added touch of inspiration for painters and printmakers, among others.
Lyon says the tour, now in its 14th year, has grown significantly because of the huge variety of artists that have jumped on board to participate.
“It’s a really nice mix. We have pottery, weaving, silk-painting, sculptors, print-making, photography . . . a bit of everything,” he says.
The tour has also become a popular draw for visitors, attracting hundreds of people from throughout the Maritimes each year.
“It’s been great to introduce the Sackville area to more people.”
The event has “paid dividends” for many of the participating artists, says Lyon, who have seen their year-round business increase by word of mouth.
For more information on the tour, check out www.artacrossthemarsh.ca or phone Robert Lyon at 536-1904. Maps are available at participating studios, online, or at the Sackville tourist bureau.
Peggy Estabrooks – painter
Jackie Weldon – painter
Dennis Reid - painter
Darlene Teahen - painter
Patty Chasse – weaver
Peter Manchester – painter
Les Jackson – custom acoustic instruments
Indu Varma – painter/sculptor
Margaret Ann Capper – potter
Kaeli Cook - potter
Donna Sharpe - painter
Sue Rose – wearable art
Angela Thibodeau - painter
Colin McCabe - painter
Robert Lyon - painter
Katherine Hicks Lyon – jewellery, weaving
Tara Wells – quilter, sculptor, animator
Katherine Marlin – stain glass, sculptor, painter
Marilyn Cook - silk painter
Rachel Morouney - potter
Bob Morouney - printmaker
Ghita Levin - potter
Diane Vertis McIsaac – painter, photographer
Melanie Landau - potter
Charlie Atherton - potter
Cathy Thurston – painter, photographer
Harry Thurston – writer
Margaret Wiles – painter
Laurell Hamilton – painter
Ted Evans – folk art
Gil Collicott – painter, photographer
Bert van Leeuwen – painter
John Warner – photographer
Darlene Strong – painter