4elements Living Arts group launches mobile studio in Kagawong

Artist and weaver Jenna Carter displays a hexagon weave at the 4elements Living Arts launch of its mobile studio in Kagawong, this past Saturday.

KAGAWONG – As the 4elements Living Arts group had hoped, on its first day of public display their new mobile studio has quickly become entrenched as a beehive of activity.

This past Saturday, outdoors at the Kagawong Park Centre, 4elements provided a first look at the new mobile studio, created with capital funding of $53,500 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Visitors celebrated at the 4e Bee Mobile Studio Tour 2020, 4elements’ physically-distanced version of the annual Elemental Festival on Manitoulin Island. This event was the first in a series of outdoor arts events this fall, supported by local festivals funding from Heritage Canada.

Susan Snelling, chair of the board of directors at 4elements Living Arts, told the gathering on hand, “The mobile studio will become a hive of land-based arts activity and will be called the 4e Bee Hive. The 4e Bee Hive is a work in progress as you can see. Once finished, this mobile studio will allow 4elements to present workshops and host arts activities in various public spaces and at different community events. The mobile studio can easily be moved, allowing artists to stay and work in different locations or communities over a period of time, and allowing any community to host an artist-in-residence.”

“We’re thrilled to be here to share it with you today,” stated Ms. Snelling. She noted, “I would like to introduce the other 4elements board members here today: Richard Lathwell, Gail Los and Melanie Hunt; and not here today, Natalie Hastings and Samantha Ramage. And a great big thank you to Louise Hayden who has coordinated this event today.”

Also on hand for the launch was Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha. 

“Welcome and congratulations to 4elements for what you are doing. With the pandemic, we have had so many festivals and events cancelled, which has been an economic hardship on the communities,” said MP Hughes. “People have had to find innovative ways to do this and I want to congratulate your team for having done that. It is thanks to funding you were able to receive (from Heritage Canada’s Local Festival fund), to promote and host these events and to show off the talent we have on Manitoulin Island.”

“You are showing we can do things differently and go ahead with projects, although a little bit downgraded,” said MP Hughes. “Congratulations.”

MPP Mantha said, “Do you hear the buzzing that’s going on? That’s the buzzing that is going to take place out of this little beehive behind me. When you look at the beehive, it incubates talent and it is going to provide major talents, beautiful crafts and music, promoting all that we have on the Island.” 

4elements Living Arts group launched its new mobile studio, the 4e Bee Hive, this past Saturday at a celebration in Kagawong. In photo from left are Susan Snelling, chair of the 4e board, musician Duncan Cameron, MPP Mike Mantha and MP Carol Hughes.

“You have found a way to be safe and still smile and provide activities,” said MPP Mantha. He praised Ontario Trillium Foundation, “they really nailed this one on the head, funding this beehive. It Is amazing the work they do, never forgetting the community driven local projects and the impact that they have on communities, like Manitoulin Island. You’ve really had an impact on the Island and the tourism we have here. This is going to help promote the Island, promote the services we have as well as promot the good nature activities we have here on the Island.” 

“4elements is grateful that the Ontario Trillium Foundation saw the value in this innovative project and provided the funding needed to make it a reality,” said Ms. Snelling. “Heritage Canada, through Local Festivals funding, continues to support Elemental Festival, even with the changes we have had to make in our approach this year. I would also like to thank the Township of Billings for hosting this event.”

“The concept for the mobile studio, based on tiny house concepts, has been in the works for several years, originating with 4elements former executive director, Sophie Edwards,” said Ms. Snelling. “Sean Procyk, a sculptor, architect and specialist in art, architecture, and landscape projects, designed the studio on wheels. Morgan Edwards, a Kagawong-based builder, is creating the structure on a 20 foot trailer base; Jenna Carter, artist and weaver, will be working on site today; Duncan Cameron, musician extraordinaire, will be playing today; D&L Contracting and Kathryn Corbiere helped us move the studio here today. Thank you all!”

“The plan for the day is for Jenna to start her weaving, and Duncan will start playing music,” said Ms. Snelling. “We asked artists to think of the concept of a beehive and what that might mean to them in the art form that they use.”

“The integrity of the hexagon weave is a lot stronger than the checkerboard,” explained Ms. Carter. She used cedar bark, willow, grasses and other natural materials in her work. 

A craft table was set up where visitors could make a bee or supplies home to make one there.

“Please take a look inside the beehive and contribute ideas to how it could function as a community arts space on wheels,” Ms. Snelling encouraged everyone. “What’s next? In keeping with the mobile concept, the 4e Bee Mobile Studio Tour 2020 will move to different Island communities the next two Saturdays—Providence Bay on October 3 with artist Sharon Preen, and in Manitowaning October 10 with muralist Michael Cywink.”

“At each event, visitors can see the studio in progress, watch as the featured artist develops their artwork, enjoy live music and some surprises and participate in art activities meant for everyone. Please enjoy, ask questions and spread the word!” added Ms. Snelling.