Sculptor Bonnie Coulter works on a piece at her East Sooke home studio

Bonnie Coulter is a maker and force of nature

East Sooke artist is among local artists in this weekend's Stinking Fish Studio Tour

By Frank Mitchell || Special to the Sooke News Mirror

Bonnie Coulter is a maker and force of nature. Visitors to her cozy studio on the East Sooke waterfront quickly discover she oozes artistic creativity.

Her paintings and sculptures are constantly evolving as she explores new ideas, techniques and media, all the while refining earlier inventions to reflect her thoughts.

Coulter did not start out as an artist. She was “the original tomboy” and wanted to go into trades.

After being rejected by the Vancouver Vocational Institute of Technology because she didn’t have credits in high school shop (they were mostly denied to girls at the time) she convinced her old school to give her an extra term of shop. This time VVI accepted her. She was the only girl entering in her year to make it past Christmas and graduated as a designer.

She married at 18 and she and husband, Keith, were set up for the good life in suburban Newton. But they had a yen to farm.

So they bought a quarter section near Soda Creek in the Cariboo and ran a mixed farm, with the whole range of crops and animals, including 20 mares for breeding mules.

The Coulters soon learned that most farmers only sustain their lifestyle with off-farm work.

So Bonnie designed houses built by Keith; she also secured a variety of design/survey related government jobs.

After their kids left home, however, running the farm and doing outside work became increasingly onerous.

The need to provide health care for a family member dictated a move to the South Island in 2001.

Keith continued to build houses, including their own in East Sooke, while Bonnie transferred to Victoria, rising to department head before “retiring” from the civil service in 2010.

Except when the fish are running, she spends four to five hours daily in her studio, making art for show or for the commissions always underway.

Bonnie has always enjoyed art, but the move to East Sooke opened new doors. Most important was the encouragement and advice from her daughter Angela (Menzies), an established painter and a longtime member of the Stinking Fish Studio Tour, to explore new techniques and subject matter.

The appeal of Bonnie’s work is demonstrated by public comments – and purchases. It’s hard to define that appeal in words.

A major factor is the play between unlikely materials and the ostensible subject matter. This is clearest in the case of her sculpture assemblies of mechanical parts and tools, many boat-related. People delight in the unexpected emergence of animals  from hard manufactured objects, especially when those animals exhibit “attitude.”

Several of her painting techniques involve seeming conflicts between materials and subjects. Sometimes the attraction emerges from deeper emotions and personal memories. Other works communicate a deep-rooted love of nature and the need to nurture it. One thing is clear: “It’s not about pretty,” says Bonnie.

She continues to explore new ideas, most recently photo realism, partly in connection with a multi-year project to document the construction of a classic wooden ship.

Bonnie’s work often appears in local galleries and since 2011, her studio has been included in the Stinking Fish Studio Tour.

 

On Tour

The Stinking Fish Studio Tour happens July 23 to 27 at venues around East Sooke and Metchosin, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Brochures and contact details for artists can be found at many local locations and online at stinkingfishstudiotour.com/map.php.

 

Just Posted

Japanese knotweed has come to Sooke, and that’s a problem

Invasive plant is a serious threat to waterways and infrastructure

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Sooke council pans multiple memorial plaque plan

District should not sell the same bench over and over again, says councillor

Inaugural Sarah Beckett memorial Run raises $20,000 for law enforcement scholarship

Widow calls run, community playground fitting tributes to fallen mom and Mountie

NHL teams score four from Grizzlies den

Three current and one future Victoria Grizz player selected in latest NHL draft

VIDEO: Victoria airport guests see dinosaur surprise

Two boys dressed as raptors get a shock when their grandmother comes to greet them

B.C. Ferries vessel breaks down right before long weekend

Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route impacted most, revised schedule adds 4 a.m. sailings

Weather Canada issues thunderstorm alert for coastal Vancouver Island

Severe thunderstorm watch issued around 4:15 p.m. as storms developed over sections of the Island

Fraser Institute releases latest B.C. high school rankings

Fastest improving schools are in cities including Agassiz, Kitimat and 100 Mile House

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

North Island thrift store robbed at knifepoint, say RCMP

Suspect fled on bicycle following Tuesday stick-up

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Most Read