In good company

Sally
Sally Cole
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Artist Mary Roscoe Murphy Robertson shows her painting, Summer Explosion. It’s one of the pieces currently on view at Howes Hall Gallery in Brackley Beach. Robertson lives on MacMillan Point Road.

Like the tides that ebb and flow, the passage of time has brought changes for Howes Hall Gallery.

Three years ago, when it opened in Brackley Beach seven artists were creating and showing their work.

Mary Carr Chaisson left after the first year to pursue other projects.

Sadly, Janet Mays died in 2010. She was a founding member.

The five artists that were left — Betty Jenkins, Linda Shaw Packard, Mary Ploughman-Jones, Margaret Muzika and Mary Roscoe Murphy Robertson — made a pact to carry on.

“It was important to maintain the remaining group and to carry on its vital creative energy. It’s something that was very strong between us,” says Jenkins, who is from Charlottetown.

Today, they are happy about their decision.

“It’s so wonderful to be a part of this group. I feel truly blessed,” says Muzika, adding it’s a busy life.

In addition to tending the gallery, curating and tearing down shows, members meet in each other’s homes for workshops and sometimes even go out for breakfast.

“Besides being business partners, we’re friends. We support each other artistically...It’s a sisterhood and it’s just been wonderful,” Muzika says.

Jenkins says group members have inspired her on a personal level.

“They encouraged me, pushed me creatively and have gotten me to a point where I can actually feel that I can call myself an artist,” says the Charlottetown resident, who is experimenting with water-based mediums.

Meanwhile, Packard feels encouraged just to relax and let the creative juices flow.

 “I’ve been doing a lot of playing (around with my art). I used to work realistically but I have loosened up. I now work on saying what needs to be said in a work without all the nitpicky little details,” says Packard, who is also adding to her knowledge.

 “I’ve done a lot of reading and experimenting and have taken several workshops where I have had to step outside my comfort zone in areas of acrylics, collage, mixed media, water colour and ink,” she says.

As a rug hooker, Jones has benefited tremendously from being part of the group.

“I have grown in self-expression and design. My colour palette has changed to reflect this new focus. I still employ the traditional method of primitive rug hooking but always add my own twist, whether it’s hand cutting the wool, using wider widths or different threads, entwined throughout — all of which is evident in my new themes,” she says.

And so has Robertson.

“We have learned a great deal from each other. For example, we had a watercolour workshop at Betty’s last fall. It formed an element in my head that I was able to carry over and include in some of my paintings,” she says.

As a painter, Muzika has diversified.

“I’ve become more interpretative in my work ... I’m also hooking rugs,” says the Covehead resident.

Over the past three years, word about the gallery has spread across P.E.I. and many people — both from the Island and visitors — have stopped in to visit. In the process, it’s gained a reputation.

It’s all good, says Jones.

“With the feedback we’ve received about our approaches to art from former customers, new people coming in and the support from the Island community, we’ve become somewhat of a destination,” says Jones.

And as for the next three years, 13 years or 23 years?

Jenkins smiles.

“As for the future, there’s no end in sight. Every year is getting better for us in sales. So we just plan to keep going as long as we’re productive and happy,” she says.

AT A GLANCE

If you are going

Howes Hall Gallery is located at 3421 Brackley Point Road.

The gallery is open daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., until Sept. 30.

The website is www.howeshallgallery.com.

Geographic location: Brackley Beach, Charlottetown, Iceland P.E.I.

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