Artist Sandra Barrett (left) who collaborated on Blue Fern with Henry Hamilton

Blue Fern unveiled

Artists Sandra Barrett and Henry Hamilton buil10-foot decorative fern

Roughly 20 people, including Mayor Mary Giuliano, gathered at the Eye of the Needle art gallery on Saturday morning for the unveiling of a new art installation. Blue Fern, as the piece is named, was a collaborative effort between Sandra Barrett and Henry Hamilton.

The piece itself stands at about 10 feet tall and features decorative fern leaf shapes in bold blue colours. The shape and the three materials used are all symbolic of the piece and meaningful to Barrett.

“There are seven parts to it, four leaves and three bracks, which are the spheres, and that’s to represent that this is the seventh year of the Columbia Basin Culture tour,” said Barrett, “We decided to make this sculpture from steel, glass and felt, which is what we sell in the Eye of the Needle gallery. It’s for the people of Fernie to respect and enjoy.”

Barrett hosted the opening at her studio, which opened in December 2014 and is located across from the library. The installation is nudged in between her gallery and the Meat Market.

Barrett estimates that the piece took about 80 hours spanning over two months to complete. The piece lights up at night, giving off a different look than in the daytime.

Since the piece was installed last Monday, Barrett has received compliments on Blue Fern. “People really like it when they just come across it because it’s not prominent, it’s not meant to be, but it’s subtle enough. If you can just stop and stare at it for a little bit, and appreciate it, then it’s done its job. That’s what art is all about, really.”

Columbia Basin Culture Tour in the Valley

The Blue Fern was made in seven different parts to commemorate the seventh year of the Columbia Basin Culture tour in the Kootenay-Columbia region. The tour features local artisans and galleries throughout the Kootenay region, stretching as far west as Grand

Forks and to Valemount in the north. This year, the tour has 77 participants, including two in Elkford – Katherine Russell Glass and Elkford Art Studio – and two in Fernie – Eye of the Needle and the Fernie Arts Co-op.

Katherine Russell, a glass artist based in Elkford, opened her studio to the public as part of the tour, allowing guests to see how her work is made and the different stages and equipment required. She noticed not only an increase in numbers from last year, but also a change in who was interested in local art.

“Last year, the people that were coming were people I knew well, so really good friends of mine, next door neighbours, people I already knew well, people who kind of knew my business, which was great support. I found that this year was a totally different crowd. Almost every single person that came I didn’t know them yet. That means the advertising is reaching further, with the Columbia Basin Tour doing a lot of advertising,” Russell said.

The Fernie Arts Co-op and the Elkford art studios both said they saw an increase in visitors over the weekend and higher sales than normal.

Barrett and Russell said they both had visitors from out of town, specifically visiting galleries along the culture tour route.