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Once an art teacher, always an art teacher: Collaborative print-making across generations on Galiano Island


Peter Scurr (right) and a student reveal a new print at the Galiano Relief Retreat. Photos provided by authors.

By Kit Grauer and Peter Scurr, artists, Galiano Island and Boundary Bay

 

In our professional life before retirement, we were very active in local and international art organizations from the BC Art Teachers’ Association to the International Society for Education through Art. Along the way we made numerous presentations around the world and developed friendships with an eclectic but enthusiastic group of fellow art teachers. In our retirement, we have found ways of staying connected with our art community and expanding our repertoire of engaging folks in art practices. Two incredibly fortunate occurrences have opened possibilities for collaborative art experiences: we were able to build a studio on the footprint of the first mission house at the end of Whaler Bay on Galiano Island, and we were offered the discarded print-making press from art education at the University of British Columbia. The power of the press has fuelled our retirement collaborations.

 

Peter taught art and graphics for the Delta School District for 38 years. Throughout our working years and retirement, we always invited secondary school art teachers over for a year-end retreat. We would create a collaborative project and with the welcome addition of the press and studio, our focus turned to collaborative print-making. With greater capacity due to the studio and press, we invited other local art teachers and some of Kit’s university students and colleagues to collaborate on our first themed print. Speedball, an art supply company, heard of our efforts and supplied ink and lino, and the Delta School District supplied paper.


A collaborative print by Galiano Relief Retreat students.

It wasn’t long before we realized this could be an exciting experience for school-aged children and offered the experience to classes from the Galiano school and classes all over the Lower Mainland. Many of the students come from city schools; they have never been on a ferry or in the forest. The students and their teachers take the morning ferry to Galiano and are met by us at the dock. We take a short walk up to our cottage and studio and the students are divided into groups to take turns with print-making, painting, forest or beach explorations, or practising sculptural possibilities in the style of Andy Goldsworthy on our property. We take a break for lunch and have a chance to play with our standard poodle, Magritte, and then get back to art-making until taking the ferry for the return trip to Tsawwassen. Many students have told us it was the highlight of their school year. We also started adding Elder College participants to our list of enthusiastic print-makers.

 

Each year we select a theme for our workshops; some past themes include “font,” “under the Salish Sea,” and “selfies” (a huge favourite with kids). Our current theme honours Gordon Lightfoot: “If I could read your mind.”

 

Retreat participants and teachers pose with their work.

In all we have made 12 collaborative prints of 49 to 56 blocks sent in from around the world, and numerous collaborative prints with school groups, Elder College classes, and university teacher-candidates.

 

Plans are already underway for six classes of students from primary to secondary, a group of teacher-candidates, an Elder College class, and a Scouts group to visit our studio this spring and summer. Take a look at our Facebook group, Galiano Relief Retreat, if you want to be inspired with the possibilities of relief printing and the pleasures of collaborative art-making.

 

Kit Grauer (left) and Peter Scurr (right) in their studio.

About the authors

Kit Grauer and Peter Scurr are retired art educators who have been involved in teaching art for over 40 years each. Since retiring from UBC (and formerly Richmond School District) and Delta School District, respectively, Kit and Peter have been actively involved in art and museum education, leading workshops for Elder College and Scouts, and hosting numerous school groups and art teachers at their studio on Galiano Island. 

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