an artist’s retreat

Last week my husband and I went to our favourite retreat on the west coast of Vancouver Island, staying in a small, rustic oceanfront cabin near Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino. It had the basic necessities of a small kitchen and bath but no TV, phone or internet. Between many walks on long sandy beaches and rainforest trails, we sat at a table by the window, or outside when sunny, and gazed at the ocean and how it reflected the changes in weather, tides and even a glorious sunset one evening.

In perfect harmony with all the eye candy, we listened to hours of our favourite music, mostly classic, that we had downloaded from our CD collection to our iPod, a Christmas gift to each other. It provided music during our drive, through the car’s speakers, and in our cabin through the cutest portable little speakers (a birthday gift for each other!) with wonderful sound, the Altec Lansing inMotion.

Lots of reading of an eclectic variety kept our minds stimulated and spurred some interesting read-aloud moments and discussions, including:

1. Douglas Todd’s articles in the Vancouver Sun (no longer available) about “A Nobel Gathering in Vancouver”, the visit of the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi, Jo-Ann Archibald, Salman Schachter-Shalomi and host Michael Ingham which included a gathering of Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, First Nations and others. This was organized by the Vancouver Multi-faith Action Society to allow many to hear the wisdom of these elders who “will offer insights on courage, happiness, community building, liberation, terrorism, ecological survival and the Iraq war” and “how to integrate heart and mind”.

2. Common Era, Best New Writings on Religion, Volume I: is about interfaith dialogue, sexuality and spirituality, ecology and the soul, post-modernism and politics, women’s spirituality and mysticism, by many different authors including Vaclav Havel, Bill Moyers and Allen Ginsberg.

3. Amriika, a novel by M.G.Vassanji, about an Indian-East African student who comes to America in the late 60’s and is caught up in anti-war demonstrations, revolutionary lifestyles, and spiritual quests. The Vietnam era sounded remarkably similar to our current Iraq war era!

4. Sightlines: Printmaking and Image Culture, edited by Walter Jule, is an excellent collection of images and word, gathered in conjunction with the international Sightlines symposium in Edmonton, Canada in 1997, about the printmaker and the print from many angles and in many countries.

We found amazing connections between all these, almost like synchronicity because our choices were spontaneous, unplanned selections from the local public library and home.

Then, there was this ongoing project for this technically challenged photo-based printmaker to learn the complexities (ie. beyond “automatic”) of the digital camera with the help of my very technically minded husband, and I did do some trial shots, but I’m still more comfortable with our old but good SLR! But here’s one of my photos of kelp in the sand, and one of his of the sunset.


We also visited a couple of petroglyph sites on Vancouver Island, but I will write about these in another post!

So, the week was a real treat and retreat, good for mind, body and soul.

April 26, 2004 in Being an Artist, Books, Photography by Marja-Leena