August 15, 2021

Making connections with Tofino artists

Wood carving artist teaching small child to carve

Tofino Market

It’s a fact that bears repeating – Tofino has long been home to a diverse artist and artisan community.

With inspiration nudged by the cleansing ocean air, the everchanging landscape of our beaches, and the quiet of our mossy old-growth forest, many Tofitians wield some serious talent.  Here’s a roundup of where you’re likely to meet some local creatives.

The Makers

The Tofino Market

It’s a Saturday go-to, from May’s Victoria Day weekend to the beginning of October.  This market is mostly focused on artisans rather than a traditional farmer’s market – because Tofino is anything but traditional!   It’s where you’ll meet more than 30 Westcoasters, crafting everything from jewelry, body care products, wooden toys, fine art and home products, to pottery and some treats.

The Factory Tofino

Some makers “graduate” from their start at the market, opening their own retail space.  A warm, modern interior houses a collaborative workspace and store for jeweler Lisa Fletcher and nature photographer Kyler Vos at The Factory. The space also offers a variety of curated clothing and handmade household goods.

Merge Curated Goods

This small, pink building is tucked away by Common Loaf Bake Shop, near the corner of Campbell and First Streets.  Here, Laurie Boudreault and her team run an apparel, self-care product and home goods design business in a space that showcases independent artisans from near and far, as well as vintage clothing - come see them in person or online.

Wood carving artist Feather George Yearsley at work.

"Feather" George Yearsley at the Carving Shed

Jeremy Koreski

The Carvers & Painters

Henry Nolla's Carving Shed on North Chesterman Beach

You won’t soon forget your first visit here.  Tucked into a spot where the forest meets the beach by the Wickaninnish Inn, the shed’s rustic appearance belies the craftsmanship of the carvers who work there. It carries the name of the late Henry Nolla, property caretaker and trusted friend of the McDiarmid family. He was a carefree and talented carver, instrumental in the build of the Inn as well as of other beloved Tofino places like the Common Loaf Bake Shop, the Roy Henry Vickers Gallery, plus the "Welcome to Tofino" sign at the Village Green. Look for the “open” sign on the front door, or for that door to be open, and wander in.  You may meet some friendly dogs, companions to “Feather” George Yearsley, known for his delicately carved eagle feathers and empowering conversations, or Christen Dokk Smith, who combines First Nations and Viking carving methods of his native Norway.

Carving On the Edge Festival

Every two years or so, art lovers and a host of wood carvers from Tofino, Clayoquot Sound and beyond gather for the Carving On the Edge Festival.  During this public event, meet artists at work as they carve in an open space.  Attend a workshop or talk, and admire the art exhibit with carvings that will take your breath away.  The 2018 theme was “Totems and Tributaries”, looking at carving as a visual language.  On September 7, a Čiinuł (Totem Pole) was raised, honouring the Ha’wiih (Tla-o-qui-aht Hereditary Chiefs) and their spiritual and physical stewardship of the hahoułee (traditional territory.) It has been a dream of acclaimed Tla-o-qui-aht master carver, Joe David to see this totem carved and raised in the township of Tofino so that everyone who stands before it understands the title of the Ha’wiih.

Mark Hobson Gallery

Mark's love of nature and the West Coast comes to life in the colourful scenes he has been painting for over 30 years. While he spends a fair amount of time tucked into the beauty of Clayoquot Sound in his studio, you may have the good fortune of meeting him in his village gallery.

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