Artists flock to Fanny Bay

It’s said the Comox Valley has the highest population of artists per capita and a surprising number of them live in Fanny Bay.

Paul Crawford is the featured artist at the first Fanny Bay Show & Tell Studio Art Tour and Silent Auction.

Paul Crawford is the featured artist at the first Fanny Bay Show & Tell Studio Art Tour and Silent Auction.

It’s said the Comox Valley has the highest population of artists per capita and a surprising number of them live in Fanny Bay.

Rumour has it a magnetic field generates all the creativity but it’s likely the serenity of the forests, water and mountain views has something to do with it.

On May 3 and 4, the Fanny Bay Community Association is showcasing the work of 18 artists in the first Fanny Bay Show & Tell Studio Art Tour and Silent Auction. Visitors can pick up a pamphlet with directions to each display at the Fanny Bay Hall (7792 South Island Highway), tour the studios and then return to bid on items produced by their favourite artists.

The hall is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day with the tour running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event provides a rare look at working artists’ studios including painters, sculptors, photographers, candle-makers and much, much more.

Featured artist Paul Crawford will display his etched and sandblasted glass in the Fanny Bay Hall. An award-winning artist, Crawford is known for his custom designs and stunning combinations of light and glass.

“Paul’s work is amazing,” says artist Judi Wild, spokesperson for the tour. “You really have to see it to appreciate the quality of his work.”

The work of the late George Sawchuk will be exhibited at the site of his former home where his partner Pat Helps still lives. A former logger turned artist, Sawchuk’s wood sculptures have been shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the Seattle’s World’s Fair Center and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Visitors can also stroll through what’s known As the Wacky Woods behind the property where Sawchuk created art in the bush.

At noon on May 3, Vanessa Cunnington will give a demo of indigo dying, one of the oldest dye processes in the world. As a textile artist Cunnington spins, weaves and knits naturally dyed textiles to create one-of-a-kind articles from alpaca wool and other materials.

The idea for the studio tour and silent auction as a way to raise money for the maintenance and upkeep of the Fanny Bay Hall originated with Judi Wild.

“The hall receives some funding but maintenance and repairs are ongoing,” notes Wild. “All money raised at the auction will go to the hall.”

Built on donated land by volunteers in 1931, the hall has been an integral part of the community for more than 80 years.

An environmental artist, Wild is known for her detailed depictions of wildlife and First Nations themes. She will also exhibit some of her many caricatures including well-known politicians such as Mike Harcourt. as well as work from her recent foray into sculpting.

“When I moved to Fanny Bay 22 years ago I was so fortunate to have the community support my artistic endeavors,” she says. “That was a huge contribution towards achieving my dream of becoming a professional artist.”

For five years Wild lived in Tsawwassen to care for her mother. “I couldn’t paint there, I just couldn’t do it,” she admits. But as soon as she returned to the quiet beauty of Fanny Bay, the creative urge returned.

“And to my surprise, I discovered a high concentration of diverse and talented artisans surrounding me,” Wild says. “I’m honoured to be part of such a vibrant cultural community.”

For more information visit

Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.

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