By Audrey Wang, AGGV Volunteer
Local Victorians were fully indulged in two of their favourite Sunday pastimes at the 2017 Associates House Tour in September – appreciating art and checking out beautiful homes! This year’s House Tour featured five stunning homes in the municipality of Oak Bay, each selected for their enviable art collection, distinct architectural style, and incredible renovations. At each home, recognized local artists were also set up with easels and displays of their works.
Homeowner and artist, Joan Pattee, could barely start working on her painting, for all the “interruptions” from admiring visitors thronging her sprawling Uplands house. This elegant home is a rich testament to the homeowner’s travels around the world and Joan’s artistic background. Although she was dabbling with watercolours on the day of the House Tour, Joan’s specialty is copper enamel, a relatively unknown art medium. Displayed over the fireplace in the formal living room, in a place of pride, is a triptych of copper panels enameled with powdered glass that had been fired many times in a kiln to produce a series of contemporary landscape paintings.
Over in the Estevan area of Oak Bay, House Tour participants felt like they were transported to the tropics! The gardens surrounding the newly renovated house were lush with over 200 shrubs and trees, raised vegetable beds, and a pergola overlooking the swimming pool surrounded by palm trees. Renowned painter, Will Millar, was stationed poolside in the sunshine, where he was painting a scene of boats and playfully entertaining the crowds with little ditties on his Irish flute. Inside the bright beach cottage, clean, understated, spaces formed the backdrop to the owners’ extensive art collection which included works by Molly Lamb Bobak, Jean-Paul Ripolle, Joe Plaskett, John Snow, Geoffrey James and the homeowner himself.
Art-lovers were treated to another exquisite art collection in the home on Monterey Avenue, which was transformed to accommodate the owners’ passion for art. Visitors were ushered from the cozy cottage-like front room into the new extension of the house. Here, the open-concept great room acts as the perfect setting for art display. The centerpiece was a large painting, Group of Seven by Andy Dixon. This art gallery-like tour didn’t end in the house. Outside on the patio, celebrated First Nations artist and sculptor Richard Hunt was carving components to a ceremonial mask he was making. Seated among the wood shavings, he happily chatted about his works and various environmental issues close to his heart.
The final two homes in the South Oak Bay area couldn’t be more different. The spacious family home on Transit Road could easily win an award for best curb appeal. The original 1900’s house was extensively renovated, merging the home’s heritage features with contemporary updates. The formal gardens perfectly complemented the elegant house. A short distance away on Mountjoy Avenue, hidden from sight on a pan-handle acreage is a sleek, open-concept house, seamlessly blending into the Garry Oak meadow that is the front yard of the property. The homeowners are biologists and outstanding nature photographers. Instead of formally landscaping their property, they chose a restoration project, removing invasive plant species and restoring the original Garry Oak habitat. The result is an idyllic park-like setting.
The annual House Tour has been going for nearly 30 years and is the main fundraiser by the Gallery Associates of the AGGV. The funds raised this year will form a part of the donation that will allow the Gallery to waive admission to Open Houses celebrating the openings of AGGV exhibitions, as well as contributing to the capital campaign for The NEXT Gallery project.