The Sointula Art Shed

Colleen Heslin & Les Ramsay

I was first introduced to Colleen Heslin’s work by a mutual friend last spring. Upon visiting her Montreal studio, I was immediatly taken by her large, collage—like canvases. Her attention to detail and the interplay between process, material, and surface was quite striking. After speaking further and learning that she had originally studied photography, we agreed it would be interesting to have her document the summer residency that she and her partner, Les Ramsay were about embark on.

Located on Malcolm Island, off the coast of British Columbia, the Sointula Art Shed is a residency created by Tyler Brett and Kerri Reid. Consisting of both a cabin and a studio, the venue acts as an artist space as well as intermittent concert venue. The village of Sointula itself has an interesting history: it was founded in 1901 by Finnish settlers looking to escape the mines of Nanaimo and create a socialist utopia. Although the experiment was short-lived — the founder fled in disgrace after just 4 years — the community survived and now thrives as a welcoming home for visiting artists.

Colleen and Les spent the month of July at Sointula Art Shed. They documented both their artistic output as well as their day to day experiences there. We’re pleased to present these images on towards for the first time.