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Unique Outdoor Art Show will help protect nature (5 photos)

'it is liberating to get outside,' says local artist Heather Kerslake. 'And for me, it’s a playful and fun way to share our work'

What better way to support nature than by showcasing nature-inspired works of art in an outdoor setting?

That’s what local artists and potters, Heather and Roger Kerslake, are doing at their studio and property in Jarratt next weekend. Their Outdoor Art Show is part of the Couchiching Conservancy’s “Passport to Nature” program, with 40% of all sales going to support the work of the Conservancy to protect nature.

“All of the imagery in our work is based on what we observe and experience in nature,” said Heather. “This year, when all of us have become so much more tuned into the outdoors, we wanted to support an organization that does so much for nature.”

This is the second year the Kerslakes have presented an outdoor art show. Last year, their socially distanced event was extremely popular and offered visitors the chance to see the artists’ works of art while exploring their rural property.

Kerslake Pottery is located in the hamlet of Jarratt on the Horseshoe Valley Road at Line 10. The event takes place June 19 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, rain or shine.

As founding members of the Images Studio Tour, the Kerslakes have opened their studio and gallery to visitors for many years, but presenting an outdoor art show is something new that was inspired by the pandemic and the desire for people to get outside.

“We found it was a great way for people to see and experience art,” said Roger. “It offers something different than a visit to a traditional gallery,” added Heather. “When you have art in the fresh air, you can be with people, but have your own quiet space too.”

For this year’s show, the Kerslakes have set up a number of interesting outdoor spaces to display their works of art.

Visitors can walk the Teapot Trail, discover the Plates in the Pinery, Gideon’s Gate, or – new this year – a labyrinth that takes you along a path to a treasure trove of pottery shards.

The labyrinth is like a work of art in itself. Heather explained that she had to use her drawing and sculpting skills to transform a black line drawing into a sculpture on the lawn.

In addition to the outdoor displays, the Kerslakes will also open the kiln shed, studio workshop and barn gallery for the weekend show, following COVID-19 guidelines (masks and limited numbers at a time).

“Our barn gallery is always something people love to see,” said Heather. “What they discover when they walk up the old barn stairs is often quite awe-inspiring.”

“For this year’s show, the gallery features a landscape theme,” said Roger, “in keeping with our support for the Couchiching Conservancy. You’ll see landscape paintings and drawings, along with our sculpture and pottery featuring trees, water and outdoors-inspired imagery.”

On display will be unique one-of-a-kind sculptures, hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery, along with new drawings and paintings by Roger. A selection of his drawings from the family cottage over the years will be shown for the first time.

Another premiere showing will be new earthenware pottery by Heather, who is known for her beautiful and brightly coloured whimsical pottery designs. Her new work combines a soda blue glaze on terracotta and uses an unconventional method of firing that supports original drawings on each piece. The result is stunning.

“I love the combination of the terracotta clay and turquoise – a beautiful, life-affirming colour. These new pieces use three elements that I find really exciting – terracotta, turquoise and drawing.”

For those looking for a unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, while discovering beautiful works of art, this is an event not to be missed. And if you’ve always wanted to add a Kerslake piece to your kitchen wares or art collection, this is the time to do it – you’ll also be supporting the valuable work of the Couchiching Conservancy.

“We are really happy with the Conservancy partnership for this show,” said Heather. “Especially in these times, partnerships feel good, and it is liberating to get outside. And for me, it’s a playful and fun way to share our work.”

With many regional galleries closed, a show such as the Kerslakes’ offers a way for artists to show and sell their work, while giving the public an alternative way to see and experience art.

For more information, visit Kerslake Pottery online or the Outdoor Art Show Facebook page.

A sneak peek at new work by Heather Kerslake, which will be showcased for the first time at next weekend’s Outdoor Art Show.