Link: The 2018 Gabriola Island Thanksgiving Weekend Studio Tour
Date: October 6-8, 2018
Location: Gabriola Island

Come autumn, the forest lights up in all the shades of yellow, orange, and red. The landscape becomes like a painting, the moody fall weather rolling in over the hills, the forests enshrouded by mist, and the water dark and foreboding. Its powerful images like these that inspire many of the amazing works of art found up and down the coast.

Locals and visitors alike know that there is no shortage of artistic talent throughout Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands. And just a few nautical miles off the coast of Nanaimo on Gabriola Island, this is no less true. Here, in this little pocket of the Pacific Northwest, resides a strong community of painters, sculptors, carvers, and more. And lucky for those with an eye for artistic beauty, they come together each and every Thanksgiving weekend (October 6-8, 2018) to host arguably one of the largest and best studio tours around. On the roster for this year’s studio tour is a set of 83 artists;
the mediums include:

  • Ceramics
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Silver
  • Leather
  • Textiles
  • Watercolour
  • Acrylics
  • Oil Paint
  • Basketry
  • Photography
  • Mixed Media
  • And more!


To learn more about this amazing event, we interviewed Mitch Miyagawa, from the Gabriola Island Arts Council. Here is what we found out:

Can you tell us a bit about the tour weekend, and how it got started?

The Studio Tour started when a group of Gabriola artists and art supporters got together and decided that a tour would be a great way to promote their work. It was a truly grassroots start to the Tour, which was actually the beginning of the Gabriola Arts Council. We now organize several other events and programs, like the Isle of the Arts Festival in April and the Cultivate Festival in August.

Gabriola Island is only 57 square kilometres; that means there’s almost one studio for each square kilometre! What do you think makes Gabriola the ideal place for an artist to put down roots?

There are 65 studios and 83 artists on the Tour, so we’ve actually got more than 1 / km2…

The natural setting creates an environment that’s ripe for creativity. It’s an amazingly friendly community of artists who support each other and their work. Gabriola is an engaged community that has really taken to the idea of “Isle of the Arts.” And the support of a strong arts organization like the Arts Council means artists can focus on creating new work.

This is the 22nd Annual tour. Congrats! What do you find are the key ways to keep an event like this going strong every year?

Every year there are new artists on the Tour, so the lineup stays fresh. The Tour has become an island tradition, as families gather here to celebrate the season. We try to attract new visitors every year through our brochure and word-of-mouth. Most of all, our artists work hard year-round to have new work to show and sell.

How is a studio visit different during the thanksgiving studio tour, when compared to a studio visit on any other day?

Artists work hard to prepare their space to receive visitors, do demos, and have a full collection of their work available to look at. It’s also different because there are hundreds of people crisscrossing the island, creating a buzz and a roving party feel. Most artists have good snacks!

If a traveller is making a day trip over to Gabriola during the tour, what else should they check out?

Check out tour central at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, where we’ll have a preview gallery. From here, visitors can make their list of studios to visit and plan out their day. They can also see the show at the Hive Emporium, which will be a collection of work from Snuneymuxw artists. We have great restaurants, cafes, shops, and if the weather’s good, check out our beaches and hikes.

Bonus Adventure

Check out the Malaspina Galleries, a sandstorm formation on the northwestern edge of the Island.

Malaspina Galleries by Curtis Havekotte