As the world grappled with the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, I found myself at a crossroads in my career. Traditionally a photographer, I seized this moment of global pause to embark on a new journey: transitioning into the world of film making and videography. This pivot led me to help create the ‘Art Island‘ documentary series w/ Emma and Zsofin of Hornby Arts, a project that resonated deeply with my passion for art and storytelling.
II. The Genesis of ‘Art Island’
The inception of ‘Art Island’ can be traced back to the vision of collaborators Andrew Mark and Zsofin Sheehy. Our goal was to create a series that shed light on the lives and artistic endeavours of the island’s vibrant community and explore the question Why Make Art?
Generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, and the Province of British Columbia, the series was poised to delve deep into the personal and creative realms of local artists. The series aimed to unravel the stories behind their art, capturing the essence of what drives individuals to pursue their artistic callings.
III. Diving into the Episodes
Each episode of ‘Art Island’ is a tapestry woven with the threads of individual artistic journeys.
Alina Milek, a florist, jeweller, and flower farmer, brings to life the ephemeral beauty of flowers in her work. Tom Burrows, a sculptor, invites viewers into his world of poly-resin color fields and abstract sculptures, rooted in the legacy of 1970s counterculture. Moragh Eilish, a mixed media artist, intertwines her creative upbringing with her practice in drawing, painting, and tattoo art. Michelle Nyberg’s paintings, influenced by the picturesque landscapes of Hornby Island, are studies in movement, color, and whimsy. The episodes featuring Tony Wilson and Alpen Kelley further showcase the diversity of disciplines, from music composition to yet-unrevealed forms of artistry, each echoing the series’ commitment to celebrating the spectrum of artistic expression.
IV. My Role as Assistant Director
Transitioning from photography to assistant directing was a leap into a new realm of creativity. My responsibilities encompassed a wide range of tasks: operating cameras, managing lighting, designing sets, and participating in brainstorming sessions. This shift demanded not only a new set of technical skills but also a nuanced understanding of storytelling. The challenges were manifold, but they paved the way for growth and learning, allowing me to contribute to the series in ways I had never imagined.
V. Behind the Scenes: A Photographer’s Touch
My background in photography played a pivotal role in shaping the visual narrative of ‘Art Island.’ Capturing behind-the-scenes moments, I aimed to add another layer to the storytelling, blending technical expertise with an artistic eye. This approach allowed me to create a visual language that was both authentic and compelling, weaving the unseen moments into the fabric of each episode.
VII. Reflections on Art, Community, and Pandemic Resilience
Working on ‘Art Island’ during the pandemic was a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of community. The series not only highlighted the artistic talents of Hornby Island but also brought to the fore the importance of connection and support in challenging times. These experiences have left an indelible mark on me, reinforcing my belief in the transformative power of art.
VIII. Conclusion: Embracing Change and Celebrating Art
My journey with the ‘Art Island’ series has been a testament to growth, adaptation, and the unyielding spirit of creativity. It underscores the significance of art in fostering community and navigating change. As we continue to share these stories, I invite everyone to explore the ‘Art Island’ series – a celebration of art, community, and the enduring power of human connection in times of adversity.
Art Island: Perspectives from a Creative Community
“This 10-episode docu-series looks into the personal lives and artistic perspectives of local artists — our community members. Expanding on how they became artists, what inspires their art, challenges they’ve encountered, and how they persevered, Art Island is a deep dive into why artists feel art is important and how it has the power to affect us all.”
Art Island: Episode 1 Alina Milek – Flower Farmer, Florist, & Jeweller
Step into the garden and studio of florist, jeweller and flower farmer Alina Milek, whose flower growing and arranging practice is, foremost, about sharing natural beauty.
Art Island: Episode 2 Tom Burrows – Sculptor
Meet artist Tom Burrows in his handmade home, and learn about his 50+ year practice spanning sculpture, design, and more.
Art Island: Episode 3 Moragh Eilish – Mixed Media Artist
Explore the artistic journey of Moragh Eilish, from her creative upbringing to her work in drawing, painting, tattoo art, and more.
Art Island: Episode 4 Michelle Nyberg – Painter
Join painter Michelle Nyberg to learn how living on Hornby Island has shaped her vibrant, detail-oriented paintings.
Art Island: Episode 5 Tony Wilson – Musician and Composer
Dive into the musical world of composer and musician Tony Wilson.
Art Island: Episode 6 Alpen Kelley – [Artist’s Specialty]
Experience the artistic process and unique perspective of Alpen Kelley.
You can watch all episodes in the Art Island documentary series on YouTube at Art Island Series.