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Former Oak Bay restaurant owner cooks up artistic endeavours

Richelle Osborne co-hosts gallery show this month in Victoria
Former Oak Bay restaurant owner Richelle Osborne shows 14 new art pieces at Fortune Gallery in Chinatown now through the end of October. (Courtesy Richelle Osborne)

A supporter of the arts, Richelle Osborne consistently created space on her Oak Bay restaurant’s walls for local artists to showcase their works.

She enjoyed supporting the artists, but it did create an ever-evolving look, with artists’ visions revolving on the walls of the small Blighty’s Bistro.

Osborne opened the Oak Bay Avenue restaurant in 1996 and by the mid-2010s she had a vision of her own for consistent artwork.

“I always felt like there was the wrong scale for the restaurant when I had other people’s art in there,” she said.

On a whim, she and a friend decided to try and create works specific to the space and feel of the restaurant. They created simple colour-blocking pieces in a Mondrian style and used the Blighty’s space as the inspiration. Patrons and their reactions served as ongoing motivation. She sold three in the first two weeks and continuously replaced the works.

“My artistic side definitely was born there in that space,” she said.

“I was trying to create things that were conversational and unique and fit that space. As I made things I had so many relationships with so many people that I loved and they were able to be honest with me.”

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The art became a draw, and on one night in particular a woman, who had just opened a new business in Victoria, bought all 21 pieces on display for her new office space. As Osborne continued creating to replace works as they sold, her passion slowly shifted from running the restaurant to pursuing art.

She sold Blighty’s Bistro in January 2020.

Her art grew, and her latest works include dabbling into exotic hardwoods, copper and acrylic protrusion. Patrons missing those colourful creations on the walls can still find her work in the region.

She started in Gallery 8 on Salt Spring Island and can now be seen in the Victoria Art Gallery, Oceanside Gallery in Qualicum, Gallery of Contemporary Art in Tofino and the EJ Hughes Gallery in Duncan.

Osborne also shares a show with artist David Smith at Fortune Gallery in Chinatown. Her 14 pieces showcase alongside his wall sculpture and hanging mobiles. The pair collaborated so the works all coordinate together.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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