Hiding in a tiny castle made of twigs and fallen bark, Manzanita Snow’s sculpted birds were doing just fine.
The elves were another story.
“They’re collapsing in the oven,” said Snow, laughing.
“I’m having to come up with ways to keep them going.”
This Friday night, Snow’s fairy castle made of moss, twigs, pinecones, and acorns will go on display together with over 60 other local artworks at the All Island Art Show.
Speaking a week before the March 10 grand opening at the Haida Gwaii Museum, Snow said the show is always a highlight.
“It’s absolutely different every year,” she said.
One of the few rules is that everyone submits a new piece — something finished in the last year.
It was just this October that Snow got really interested in miniatures, especially fairy castles (“They’re all the rage,” she says).
Although she was all thumbs at first, she quickly took to carving tiny clay birds and flowers for the castle garden and gathering bark for the walls.
“It turned out real sweet,” she said.
“I don’t think there’ll be another one like it.”
Jamie McDonald, co-ordinator of this year’s All Island Art Show, said that’s just the kind of try-it attitude that keeps the show rolling.
“It’s always fresh,” she said.
“It can’t be the same old thing, which is a great challenge for artists.”
Considering there are only about 4,200 people living on Haida Gwaii in winter, McDonald said it’s amazing the show gets 60 to 80 artworks every year.
“I think the beauty of this landscape inspires a lot of people,” she said.
McDonald’s own work — her first at All Island — features beach-combed feathers, shells, rocks and bone.
It’s quite a contrast to the objects she used to find around Montreal, where she once filled the pockets of a clear shower curtain with city treasures — a costume sheriff’s badge, a cement mould of someone’s teeth, a printout of a Filipino dating profile.
McDonald said she and others appreciate the museum gallery as a venue — four days are set aside to collect and display the works, and all the lights and labels are done to a professional-looking standard.
While the opening is usually jam-packed, there is room in the adjoining hall for live music, desserts made by the artists, and non-alcoholic punch.
Like McDonald, painter Jacquie Poschmann is entering a work in the show for the first time this year.
‘Nurse Stump Along Yakoun River’ is a large painting based on a series of quick sketches she did of a cedar stump entwined by the roots of two younger trees.
“I’m pregnant right now, and there’s a kind of embryonic feel to the painting,” she said.
“There’s new life and new growth — I seem to be attracted to that more than ever now when I walk in the woods.”
Making art over the winter can be a “solo, kind of locked-up-in-your-house activity,” she said, so it’s great to have a place to share.
Adjudicated by painter Janice Tanton, now an artist in residence at the Banff Centre, the All Island Art Show opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 10 in the Haida Gwaii Museum. Works will remain on display until April 8, and a small commission on any art sales goes back to the museum and next year’s show.