State of Art - Carving Out a Life of Creativity on the Coast

Legacy Part 11 – Yvonne and Albert – Artists

Link to photo gallery

By Jason Murphy, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Albert buys his coffee beans raw from a place on one of the nearby islands and roasts them himself on the stovetop. He offered me a much needed cup as he set about grinding some of the latest batch using a hand grinder attached to one of the kitchen’s wooden support posts.

Albert is a fisherman turned ceramicist. He makes ceramic items, often handing them to Yvonne, a lifelong artist, to apply her vision to the pieces in swathes of colour.

The coffee roasting thing is characteristic of a small scale, domestic DIY ethos that I have come to recognize in communities located in remote places. It’s up there with baking your own bread, growing your own produce, or beekeeping - all small insurrections against the inequities of the global supply chain. The making mentality becomes a necessity when you live in a place where luxuries are harder to come by and transportation inflates the cost of anything shipped-in.

Where Ideas Come to Life

Like many here, Albert and Yvonne’s home on Gilford Island is a testament to years of hard work, hard work that is now paying back dividends in terms of freedom, comfort and the kind of tranquil isolation that many artists crave.

They have three kilns on site, each serving a different specific need, and most of the ground floor of their house is devoted to studio space – a painter’s studio and gallery for Yvonne and a ceramics studio for Albert. It’s the kind of set-up city dwelling creatives would give their right arm for.

There is the kind of organized clutter familiar to anyone who has spent time in art studios, and I am struck by how obviously prolific the pair are – quantities of finished examples of their work draws the eye in from every direction.

A Community of Self-Expression

The duo take pleasure in explaining to me how they have evolved one of their most popular bowl designs to work better on the often rolling surfaces of a boat – a decision to make the piece more fitting for their customers, many of whom are boat owners cruising the area in summer. 

When I ask Yvonne if she ever feels any pressure to focus on (or avoid) a particular subject matter in her work, she says no. She is inspired by the beauty of the area and feels compelled to translate that into her art pure and simple, which clearly appeals to those who buy her pieces – artist and audience perfectly aligned.

She tells me there are other artists in the area doing work that’s more inspired by environmental activism, and they too have found their place in the community, a community that Yvonne and Albert help to support by hosting gatherings and events at their home.

The Muse that Keeps on Giving

Artists find their way out to the edges because that is where the view is most clear, literally and metaphorically. 

I wondered if I had a studio somewhere similar to where Yvonne and Albert’s is located if I wouldn’t just spend all my time staring out of the large windows at the stunning view and getting nothing done. In the end, I don’t think so. The sheer amount of work required to keep body and soul together quickly remove any sentimentality about living in a place like the Broughton – that said, I think the environment and the peace of the place would be a constant inspiration, like one long meditation on the things that are genuinely important.

As for Yvonne and Albert and artists like them, their commitment to this place and this environment as a place of creativity and constant inspiration make them a vital part of the future of BC’s coastal communities.