Wonder’neath artists to unveil Isleville studio

The common area at Wonder'neath's studio was used as a theatre rehearsal space during renovations. (Contributed)

Three of the four members brainstorm at a recent meeting. (Contributed)

Melissa Marr, on right, silkscreening with a St. Joseph's A. McKay student.

HALIFAX — A big superhero-styled “POW!” drawn on a chalkboard greets visitors to the North End’s newest art studio and workshop space. The Wonder’neath Artist Collective will show off its renovated digs to the public on Sunday.

Of the group’s four members, three live within two blocks of the Isleville Street studio.

“We walk by all the time to get our kids to and from school. As mother-artists (who) are trying to find time to work, it makes all the difference. Being a block from home means you can get in there every day,” says Heather Wilkinson, a visual artist and one of the collective’s members.

Wilkinson is joined by Melissa Marr, Odessa Spore and Gillian Robinson.

Like superheros, they’ve been busy lately. Refinishing floors, moving walls, running silkscreen classes … and that’s on top of other work commitments, parenting and, in the case of several members, home-schooling.

The four women have been fixing up their new digs – next door to the Barber of Isleville – since they got the keys in February. They want to use the space to both teach and create. There’s a large common area and kitchen for workshops, and two smaller rooms where the visual artists among them can work on their own projects.

A launch event dubbed an Ice Cream and Art Social is set for 1 p.m. this Sunday.

“Each of us have some sort of an ice-cream maker. I don’t know if any of us are experts, but it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Get some fresh ingredients and freeze them up. Add some sugar,” says Wilkinson, before bursting into laughter.

Of course there will also be art.

“Hopefully we’re going to have some art materials up so that we can help people work on something. And we’ll have some of our own work up on the walls for people to look at.”

Wilkinson and Marr work together on numerous school-based art projects. The name Wonder’neath came from a recent project they facilitated at St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay school.

“We were building this temporary structure that was like a big canopy that had all these little objects of wonder hanging down from it. … Our students would build this piece and we’d set it up and other people would be invited inside and it would kind of create this temporary fantastical space,” said Wilkinson.

“And the name just stuck with us.”

The Isleville space is already scheduled to host Grade 1 students for silkscreening workshops. Ideas for future projects include summer day camps for children, pre-school programming and even night-time slots for adults looking for a temporary studio.

“Sometimes people just need a little extra space and time to kind of pull it all together and this would be a space maybe where people could do that.”

Wonder’neath Artist Collective is located at 2819 Isleville. An Ice Cream and Art Social will take place there 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 30. Free admission.

6 Responses to “Wonder’neath artists to unveil Isleville studio”

  1. 1 Dale Olafson May 26, 2010 at 4:10 am

    I hope this space gets well used and you all enjoy yourselves!!!

  2. 2 vickigrant July 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Hi – Do you give any classes or workshops this summer? My 18 year old daughter and nephew are home from university and would both like to try silkscreening. If you don’t, would you know of some place else in the city that does? At the North End Market, I heard about a silk-screening coop in the North End but can’t remember where it was. Thanks, Vicki Grant

  3. 3 melissa marr July 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Vicki,

    Silkscreening is great fun! Yes – in the north end there are two options: our spot (highlighted in David’s article above) and Inkstorm through The Zine Library on Roberts Street. Both great places to learn!

    Let me know if you’d like to connect with us: 454-2862!

    😉 melissa

    • 4 Vicki Grant May 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Hi, Melissa – We never got around to taking a screen-printing course last summer but are interested again this year. Are there any courses happening soon? My daughter is 19 and may have a friend or two interested as well. Thanks!

  4. 5 vickigrant July 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Thanks, Melissa! I’ll talk to my daughter and get back to you. Vicki

  5. 6 Patty Marr October 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Melissa and Heather:
    Looks like a great place for magic to happen. Good work all of you

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