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Former downtown store owner starts unique art enterprise

Olivia Neal is working mainly in textiles, takes commissions and is donating some proceeds from her work to help the disadvantaged
Olivia Ellen working on some artwork in the before-times. Credit Bethany Scott
Olivia Ellen is shown working on some artwork in pre-pandemic times. She has reinvented herself in recent months.

Good day and welcome to the Red Zone! Of course, the big news this week is that our smaller businesses, stores, and galleries are allowed to reopen, at limited capacities, with COVID-19 protocols in place.

It appears most of our makers with spaces are taking advantage of being able to open up, although some are still getting organized and haven’t unlocked the doors as yet.

Makers Market and Hibernation Arts are open, Creative Nomad Studios is getting its elevator installed, and the library is still doing curbside pick up for this week. Check out your favourite gallery’s social media to see what’s going on.

As the pandemic rages and drags on and on, are your thoughts turning to the before-times? Do you find yourself saying, “I wonder what happened to so-and-so?” I found myself saying that, and so decided to do some sleuthing and find out!

Whatever happened to Olivia Neal, former owner of Harold + Ferne: The Local Goods Co.?

Well, firstly, she and her husband had a little baby girl, Norah!

Secondly, she closed the store to spend more time with her daughter and see where she wanted to go next.

Thirdly, she started Olivia Ellen Arts, her own line of art. Having her own art, available to purchase online, means she can work at her own pace and with the (limited) amount of time she has available, during nap times and evenings.

Olivia is excited to donate 20% of her sales to support women, disabled people, and others who are disadvantaged. Recently, she was able to donate $80 from her Christmas sales to support Black Women in Motion. These donations are an important aspect of her work and one she is very passionate about.

Olivia is mainly working in textiles, doing embroidery work, felting, quilting, and weaving. She also does mending! Her work is exquisite, painstaking, and beautiful.

Olivia takes commissions and you can check out her work online here. You can also follow her on Instagram @oliviaellen.arts, to see what she is working on, day to day.

Otter Art Club is starting a four-week watercolour workshop for youth, this Sunday. Join Travis and Naomi for watercolours, art, and inspiration in this special series. For more information and to register, click here. Otter Art Club also has an online shop with art supplies available to purchase. Check it out here.

There are only three more limited edition prints of Travis Shilling’s work, We Are Always Together, available. Purchase and support the work of Otter Art Club. You can purchase this print here.

The Leacock Medal for Humour Gala Weekend is cancelled for the second year in a row, but, never fear, judging and prize giving will still happen. There are 77 books submitted, and a long list of 10 nominees will be unveiled on April 19. Excited to see who makes the cut!

Creative Nomad Studios has a series of workshops planned for early March and beyond, including block printing, making plant-based freezer meals, photographing artwork, and lots more. I will dive into these in greater detail next week, but you can check them out now and register here.

The Orillia Public Library has some virtual workshops available, including a travel workshop and an author’s reading by Peter Jennings, coming up in March. Check the website for more information.

Speaking of workshops, there are so many online workshops, tours, lectures, and more, available every day, from all around the world! There are far too many to delve into here, but check your Facebook events and you can see what I am talking about. The pandemic is difficult in so many ways, but there are definitely more virtual opportunities than ever before, and I urge you to check some of them out. Most are free, to boot!

If you have arts news, send it to by Tuesday at noon to be included.

Stay in, stay safe, and stay warm!