Arts and crafts have been part of the fabric of British Columbia for centuries. We are probably best known for our West Coast Art which is typically considered the jewellery, carvings, masks, prints and sculptures created by the Haida and Coast Salish peoples.
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When someone refers to West Coast Art, this is usually what they have in mind. And Victoria has several places to view and purchase Indigenous art including the First Nations Artists Causeway Gallery in the Inner Harbour.
Other types of arts and crafts that Islanders are recognized for include ceramics, textiles, glassware, metalworks, painting, wood-working and nature/beach art. You'll find many local artisans listed in our Made in Victoria Guide. Several of these makers are also set up at our local markets throughout the year.
Guided and self-guided studio tours are another great way to see local artisans at work and purchase unique, often one-of-a-kind pieces. The annual open house at Rock Bay Square is another terrific option to meet makers.
Art galleries showcase curated exhibits by local, national and international artists.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on Moss Street is the largest gallery in the region and features works from multiple artists from around the world.
The Robert Bateman Centre on the other hand is home to the realism nature paintings created by Canadian naturalist Robert Bateman. For an unforgettable, truly Canadian experience, be sure to visit the Centre located in the Steamship Terminal at Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
If admiring all this art brings out the artsy fartsy side of you, maybe you want to spend some time creating your own. I recently discovered adult paint by number sets and these things are awesome! Order a couple kits, gather some friends and have your own paint night. My favourite are the orca, the cherry blossoms and the mountain/lake scene.
But if you prefer to leave the mess to someone else, DIY art studios are popping up everywhere and becoming a very popular way to spend creative time with family and friends.
One of the things I love about this concept is you pay some money, show up with your “paint clothes” on, get all messy, have a blast with your family and friends and leave with your very own masterpiece in hand. Your fee covers supplies, an instructor and the clean-up!
Crafting is becoming big business and even groups looking to raise funds are getting in on the action by selling tickets to events and keeping a portion of the sales for their charitable causes.
Some of the DIY arts and crafts companies in Greater Victoria include:
Looking for a different creative outlet? Local supply shop Island Blue maintains an extensive list of local art instructors that provide classes and workshops in a variety of mediums.
For a uniquely West Coast artistic experience, come on down to the annual Moss Street Paint In, hosted by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Each year 100-150 established and emerging local arts and crafts artisans bring their studio to the street where they demonstrate techniques while producing work on site. It’s a very cool experience you won’t want to miss. Keep your ears open for the dates of the annual TD Art Gallery Paint In - usually held around the third Saturday in July.
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