Summer Workshops

Landscapes of the Heart

Sunday, July 14, 1 - 4 p.m.

To be held on site at the McLoughlin Gardens in Merville.

This multi-genre workshop will introduce you to field journaling as a technique to experience and learn about our local environment and how to translate that into an attendance to place. Field journalling is an excellent way of enriching your writing practice. We’ll use pen and ink, watercolour, and writing exercises to attend to the local landscape.

Bring supplies (a waterproof drawing pen, good sketching or water colour paper, paints) if you have them; if you don’t, some will be available to borrow. For all levels, especially those who don’t think they’re artists!

Registration limited to 12 participants. Registration opens June 20, 2019. Cost: $45 for non-members, $35 for members. Some scholarships available, please inquire by writing to Christine Dickinson at To register for this workshop, please go to Landscapes of the Heart.

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Poetry and Place

July 28th, 2019, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

To be held at the Courtenay & District Museum on 4th Street in Courtenay.

Poetry is inextricably tied to place. Hone your writing practice with exercises designed to foster place-based writing. We’ll examine how metaphor, image, and tone can contribute to your work. We’ll learn more about the local environment and foster a deepened attendance to place through poetry. For all levels. 

Registration limited to 12 participants. Registration opens June 20. Cost: $45 for non-members, $35 for members. Some scholarships available, please inquire by writing to Margo McLoughlin at To register for this workshop, please go to Poetry and Place.

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Visiting artists and writers announced!

The Comox Valley Art Gallery and the McLoughlin Gardens Society are delighted to welcome three remarkable women to explore and deepen their creative practice while in residence at the Gardens this summer.

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Rachel Grenon arrives May 10 to begin a six-week residency at the McLoughlin Gardens. A ceramicist from the Saguenay Region of Quebec, Rachel studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. During her residency she will be creating work that is site specific, using materials, forms and shapes inspired by the west coast landscape.

An exhibition of her new work, titled Hold Being Held, will be on display at the Comox Valley Art Gallery from June 27 - September 7, 2019.

Meanwhile, local writers can look forward to working with poet and non-fiction writer Maleea Acker, who will be in residence from July 8 - August 5.

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Maleea is the author of two books
of poems, The Reflecting
and Air-Proof Green (Pedlar
2009, 2013), and one of essays,Gardens Aflame: Garry
Oak Meadows of BC’s South
(New Star Books, 2012).
Her work has been published in
Canada, the US, Mexico and the
UK. She writes an environmental
column for Focus Magazine and serves on The Malahat Review’s non-fiction editorial board. Maleea has lived and worked in Canada, the US, Spain and Mexico. She is also an award-winning Geography lecturer at the University of Victoria, where she is a PhD candidate, focusing on Geopoetics.

Maleea will be giving two workshops, "Landscapes of the Heart" and "Place and Poetry," as well as consulting with local writers. Look for additional information about these offerings, at least one of which will be held in out of doors.

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Clea Minaker is a visual artist and puppeteer originally from the Comox Valley. She will be in residence at the McLoughlin Gardens from August 12 - September 7.

Clea studied puppetry in Eastern Canada, France, and New York. Notable collaborations include: Feist’s The Reminder Tour, Nufonia Must Fall by Kid Koala, and shadow design for Atom Egoyan’s Salomé at the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet. She has garnered many awards for her work. Clea lives in Montreal and Toronto and teaches at McGill and Concordia. During her residency, Clea will be doing research for upcoming projects that to be presented at the Comox Valley Art Gallery in the exhibition Reveal, opening on September 27. For a recent article about Clea and her work, visit this link to a piece in the CV Collective - A Whole World in Her Hands.

Tickets selling quickly...

The word is out about our screening of “The Gardener” on Thursday, April 4th at the Stan Hagen Theatre in Courtenay. This remarkable film tells the story of the creation of a garden over three generations. To view the trailer, visit this link: “The Gardener.” Tickets are $15 and are still available at Laughing Oyster and will also be available the door. Doors will open at 6:30 on Thursday evening.

Film fundraiser in Courtenay, April 4th, 2019

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The McLoughlin Gardens Society will present a screening of “The Gardener” on Thursday, April 4th at 7 p.m. at the Stan Hagen Theatre in Courtenay. This gorgeous documentary explores the world of Quatre Vents, a private garden developed over several decades by Frank Cabot. Tickets are $15, available at Laughing Oyster, Blue Heron and Tarbells. Also available online at The Gardener Film Screening.

Arleen Paré to read at the Courtenay Library

Arleen Paré, a Governor General’s Award-winning poet and fiction writer, will be reading from her work at the Courtenay Library, on Tuesday, August 21st, from 4:30 - 5:30 pm. Please mark this event on your calendar and bring a friend to hear Arleen read at this free event.

Here's a taste of Arleen's poetry, from Lake of Two Mountains:

flint-dark far-off
sky on the move across the lake
slant sheets closing in

sky collapsing from its bowl
shoreline waiting taut
stones dark as plums

from "Distance Closing In"

The Habit of Art with Arleen Paré

Writer-in-Residence Arleen Paré will be giving a workshop in Courtenay on Saturday, August 18th.

Arleen writes: "The phrase 'the habit of art' was coined by Jacques Maritain, an early twentieth century French philosopher and later borrowed by the American writer Flannery O’Connor.  They each had their own ways of understanding the term, but for me, the habit of art indicates a way of being in the world, a way of seeing, of sensing, with curiosity, interest, awareness.  It is a habit, a mantra, an orientation, a possibility, a practice.  It is noticing details, patterns, colours, wonder, what is wow-ful, which is almost anything, everything, outside and inside, pleasant and unpleasant.  It is a way of heightening experience as artists, poets or painters, writers or mosaisists, opening ourselves to what’s there.  It is a point of view, a way of inclining our minds, a stillness.  Just saying “the habit of art” can shift the view."

In this workshop we will employ “the habit of art” to expand our practice as writers, as artists, and as individuals interested in the world.  

Paré, who lives and writes in Victoria, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the University of Victoria. Arleen is offering individual consultations this month. Visit this link to find out how to sign up.

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Summer Workshops

The McLoughlin Gardens Society is hosting an afternoon workshop on July 18th with Victoria children's book author Michelle Mulder.

Whose Story Is It Anyway?

A story can change a lot, depending on who’s telling it. Join award-winning author Michelle Mulder for a writing workshop that focuses on creating an authentic, compelling narrative voice. Bring a writing project you’ve been working on, or come prepared to create on the fly. We’ll explore all the steps in creating characters and/or narrators that stand up and tell it like it is (from their own point of view, of course!) This is a lively, engaging, no-pressure afternoon designed to get your pen racing across the page.

Date: Wednesday, July 18th          Time: 1 - 3:30 p.m.                Registration Fee: $40


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Touching Earth Bodies Exhibit Opens

The new exhibit at the Comox Valley Art Gallery opened on Friday, May 18th and runs until June 29th.

Touching Earth Bodies offers a dialogue between three bodies of collaborative and individually-produced work by Victoria-based artists Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde and Valerie Salez. The three projects, In Defiance (Delaronde), In the Shadow of our own Dust (Salez), and Touching Earth Bodies (Delaronde and Salez), explore the power of self-representation, rejuvenation, and healing through ceremony and connections to the land. 

Visit the Gallery's site for more information about the show and the community make art workshop on June 2nd.

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