Haliburton Village has an outstanding nature and art scene to offer tourists. Making for a great summer excursion just a 3-hour drive from Toronto, we met Barrie Martin of Yours Outdoors, to try out their Pedal Your Arts Tour.
Getting active and exploring Haliburton’s outdoors, our team rode 10-12 km on bicycle, to a variety of art studios and visual attractions. We visited Jane Selbie’s fabric art studio, Barbara Joy Peel’s pottery and jewelry studio, the Haliburton School of the Arts, and the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. In this article, I’ll share some tidbits of the artsy fun we had.
Stop #1: Barbara Joy Peel Studio
Our tour began at Barbara Joy Peel’s studio. Barbara opened her studio as a retirement project, after teaching at the Haliburton School of the Arts 38 years ago. Barbara makes pottery and jewelry, working with clay, porcelain and stoneware.
At the studio, Barbara showed us how she makes her slab work. “All the work you see that is not round is slab work. Plates, wall hangings, bowls. What you do is you have forms because the clay is very soft, so I’m going to make this piece here.”
First, Barbara created perfect slabs with the same thickness all the way through by using a roller. Second, she took a water sponge to compress the clay, and prevent it from cracking in the process. Third, she rolled pieces of pinecone and leaves from her garden to compress into the clay to create an impression.
After compressing her garden leaves and pinecones into the clay, Barbara showed us her unique, and natural impression. You could see the the veins of the leaf imprinted in the piece, reaching out like tree branches, and the vivid texture of each pinecone’s shell.
After the clay dries, Barbara places her pieces in a liquid glaze, so the water gets sucked out of the material, and onto the surface, completing inventory for the studio for sale.
Stop #2: Haliburton School of the Arts
Our second stop was the Haliburton School of the Arts. They offer courses related to Arts and Design, with a variety of 1 to 2 year diploma programs, and numerous certificate programs in visual creative arts and integrative design, totalling at over 300 courses.
We toured the school’s studios, and learned about their new maker space, a spot for people to use equipment and materials they wouldn’t have access to in their regular lives, like screen printing machines, 3D printers, laser cutters, and industrial sewing machines.
“You could come to the maker space, sew a bunch of canvas bags with our industrial sewing machine and then screen-print all of them,” one school representative told us. “We’re really excited because we got a local community grant for us to do that, so we anticipate it will be a big community draw for people coming into the school.”
Since the faculty is local, a lot of the teachers are nearby studio artists who want to fine-tune their skills, try out different styles and mediums, and teach students their trade. They also have their pieces on display throughout the school for sale.
While Haliburton School of the Arts was founded in 1967, this location only opened in 2004, and the Haliburton Forest supplied them with beams for the front of the school.
It’s a very clean-looking campus, with vibrant and modern colours, such as the electric blue sculpture of a horse by Bill Lishman, called The Horse and Rider. It was designed to represent an indigenous rider at one with the horse, in body and spirit.
Stop #3: Haliburton Sculpture Forest
Just a few minutes walking distance from the Haliburton School of the Arts, there’s an interactive sculpture garden. Starting with only three sculptures in 2001, the 1km loop now holds 34 tactile sculptures, and every year one or two more are commissioned.
In addition to the many sculptures, there are also three distinctly formed benches, with blended media.
While the Haliburton Sculpture Forest began as a way to attract residents, visitors, and tourists to highlight visual art in the community, it is now an initiative of Haliburton Sculpture Forest et al, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to increase understanding and appreciation of the arts through the development of public art and engagement of artists within the community.
Stop #4: Jane Selbie Fabric Art
For our final stop, we visited Jane Selbie, a local fabric artist. She works from photographs, and mostly scenes from around Haliburton, though she has also completed pieces of other areas, like Manitoulin Island. When she takes a picture, she takes it at the same angle that she will be making her art. Like a watercolour artist, she works on the background, and then moves forward towards the surface.
All of Jane’s works are made without a sewing machine. They are dry mounted so the artwork will be stabilized, and so it doesn’t sag down. These are all layers of fabric held by glue, with various textures, colours, depth, and absolutely no added paint on top.
Jane told us that she often gets asked to make custom pieces in memory of relatives that pass away. For example, say somebody special has died, maybe a dad who owned the cottage and loved the place. The son may give Jane fabric of his father’s clothing to make him a picture of the cottage.
In the studio, Jane displays a variety of her art pieces, all at different sizes, shapes, and price-points. She sells pieces as small as greeting cards, to large framed wall pieces. Each piece is signed, with a needle and thread, with her last name, Selbie.
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