Among the many blessings of life in Hastings County are the artists who live and work here. They bring such vibrancy to our lives through their creativity and their active involvement in our communities.
One of the tools provided by Hastings County to locate artists in our area is the Arts Route - ArtsRoute.ca. In the words of the Arts Route mandate, “The Arts Route highlights artisans and galleries across Hastings County, creating a trail of discovery that leads to local painters, potters, jewelry makers, photographers, woods craftsmen, and more.”
I recently spent a very pleasant late-summer day travelling to Bancroft to check out two galleries that are members of the Arts Route: Saidie’s Pottery and the Art Gallery of Bancroft. And what a fine day it was!
Let’s start off with Saidie’s Pottery, located at 328 Buck Hill Road, just off Highway 62, ten minutes north of Bancroft.
Saidie MacDonald is one of those people that you like the second you lay eyes on her. Vibrant, passionate, funny – and an accomplished potter. And all that vibrancy and passion shine through in her pottery. Nothing gives her more pleasure than having someone visit her gallery and finding the piece they’ve been yearning for. As Saidie says, “That’s when your heart finds your pot.” That’s important for Saidie because her pottery “is always created from the heart.”
Her main gallery space, located in a renovated garage behind the home she shares with her husband, George, contains cabinets featuring her exquisite pots, cups, vases, and bowls, plus her three kilns. She also fires some of her pottery in an outdoor pit, with breathtaking results. If you’re really lucky Saidie will show you her basement mudroom, where she has her pottery wheels and supplies. Her eyes light up when she talks about the joy and energy she feels while working in her mudroom.
If you’re in the mood for seeing heart-created pottery and meeting its vivacious creator, check out Saidie’s Pottery on your travels in the Bancroft area. You can locate her on the ArtsRoute.ca website or find her on Facebook. Just watch the spelling of Saidie!
My next visit was to the Art Gallery of Bancroft (AGB), located at 10 Flint Avenue, just east of Hastings Street North (Highway 62) in downtown Bancroft. There I met Sara Lang, one of the dedicated volunteers who have been nurturing this community gallery for more than three decades. Similar to Saidie MacDonald, Sara Lang is one of those people that you like immediately. The warmth of her welcome combines with her passion for art to help create an ideal showplace for visual creativity in North Hastings.
The featured artist at the AGB during my visit was artist Marc L. Gagnon. His dynamic use of colour, texture, and form combines to create an impressive collection – well worth an extended visit to the gallery.
The AGB has monthly exhibits in the main gallery space, the planning for which is done 12 to 18 months in advance. Its volunteers also organize an annual juried show, have extensive outreach into the community, host school visits, and offer monthly workshops. Check out the AGB website for details. (www.artgallerybancroft.ca) Visits to the AGB are free.
The AGB also operates an excellent gift shop featuring a wide range of art, photography, books, needlework, and textiles. Very tempting indeed. In fact, if you buy a $20 membership, you get 10% of your gallery purchase – and qualify for 10% off art supplies at Currys. A great deal!
So, all in all, this was a great way to spend the day: experience the beauty of North Hastings, meet interesting people who are committed to their community, and be delighted by the quality of the art. Welcome to Hastings County!
Story and photographs by Larry Tayler
As one of our six Local Wanderers exploring Hastings County, Larry enjoys Arts and Culture, Agri-Tourism and wandering back roads and trails.
To learn more about Larry and his adventures as well as the other five Local Wanderers and the excursions they've experienced across the County click here.
Our Local Wanderer Initiative is funded and supported in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport and Regional Tourism Organization 11 - Ontario's Highlands.