In June, Farrelton Artists’ Space held its inaugural open house, welcoming art lovers from all over the region to the little school house that overlooks the Gatineau River. It was an overwhelming success. The hallways and studios were crowded with fans. Everyone eager to be part of the buzz. Recently Lesley Buxton, PAF’s in-house blogger, talked with the three innovative artists: Nathalie Poirier, John Barkley, Hannah Ranger who were the brains behind this creative hub.
Lesley: So how did it all begin?
Nathalie: Basically I had a studio in Chelsea but my art was too big for my space. And I needed a place to run workshops. So I was looking everywhere—even the old library in Wakefield. Then I ran into Hannah at the Aries Café.
Hannah: Nathalie asked me if I knew of a space big enough for lots of artists and space for teaching. I told her about the schoolhouse. I’d had my eye on it for a while.
Nathalie: I drove there immediately. As soon as I saw it I called the school board from the parking lot. I had a meeting set up with them two days later.
John: Hannah told me about the space, at yoga, and I went with her and Nathalie to see it.
Nathalie: While we walking through the school, John whispered in my ear, “This place is a gold mine.”
John: I just felt the timing was perfect. I mean, the wind was blowing that way, right? It was a good price and I had a binder of memos filled from time on the board at Enriched Bread Artists. It seemed easy.
Lesley: What was it like inside?
John: It was jammed with desks, school equipment, there were boxes of blanks because the basement had been used by the cops.
Nathalie: Within a month we were moving in. We set up a proxy board. We started approaching other artists.
John: They were sceptical at first. But then the ball got rolling.
Nathalie: We started with about ten. Now we have twenty-one.
Lesley: Was there ever a moment when you thought it wasn’t going to happen?
Hannah: This project from the beginning rolled smoothly. But I’d just built my own studio so it took me several months to move in.
Lesley: What made you move in?
Hannah: Right from the initial meeting, I could tell this would be a great thing—the energy.
John: The area needed a catalyst to augment its art scene.
Lesley: Any last thoughts?
John: It was just supposed to be