A perfect P.E.I. partnership

Group of Brackley Bay artists happy with their 2014 home in a new gallery at Watermark Theatre

Sally Cole scole@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 18, 2014

Artists in the Group on Brackley Bay are excited about their new gallery space at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico. From left are Mary Ploughman Jones, Betty Jenkins and Linda Shaw Packard. The gallery is open six days a week in North Rustico. Missing from photo is Margaret Muzika who is taking this summer off. GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE

©Guardian photo by Sally Cole

Like the ebb and flow of the tides on P.E.I., the passage of time has brought changes to the Group of Brackley Bay artists.

After operating a gallery at Howes Hall for a half decade, the members found themselves at a crossroads last fall when the building came up for sale.

Should they stay or should they go?

After some discussion, they put a bid on the property, located in Brackley Beach, a stone’s throw away from the P.E.I. National Park.

But when their offer was rejected, it was time to consider other options.

“It was a beautiful old building and it was wonderful to be a part of that for five years. But, like any old, historic building, it required a lot of work and upkeep,” says artist Betty Jenkins, a member of the artist group that includes Mary Roscoe Murphy Robertson, Mary Ploughman Jones, Linda Shaw Packard and Margaret Muzika (who is taking the summer off).

So when they received an invitation from Duncan McIntosh to create a gallery at the Watermark Theatre in North Rustico, their interest was piqued.


“We thought ‘well, maybe it’s time to move on,’” Jenkins says.

So, after viewing the property in June, they set out to define their space in the spacious lobby. Then, after installing track lighting and hanging their work, the Watermark Gallery officially opened on July 4.

Since then, hundreds of people have enjoyed their work, and the artists have enjoyed sales.

“We’re very happy. It’s been an extremely positive experience,” says Jones, who hooks colourful rugs.

Robertson agrees.

“It’s wonderful to be in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary setting .... The cast and the crew have been very encouraging and stimulating as well,” says the West Covehead acrylic artist.

Theatre officials are also thrilled with the creative relationship.

“Having the gallery at the Watermark Theatre is a great partnership because it brings in visual art lovers to the theatre all day long and gives audiences some beautiful images to contemplate during intermissions at night,” says McIntosh, artistic director, adding there are many benefits for the artists.

“Our staff is able to be there all day long so the artists can concentrate on creating art instead of having to manage a gallery.”

The artists take turn about staffing the gallery during show nights. This summer, three plays — The Lion in Winter, The Rainmaker and What to Wear to the Birth of a Nation — are running six nights at the theatre.

Packard enjoys interacting with theatregoers as they wander through the gallery on their way to their seats or during intermission.

“It’s been very positive. People seem to be very excited that we’re here. They’re also very impressed with the artwork and the theatre itself. So, (the two disciplines) really go hand in hand,” says the watercolour/mixed media artist.

McIntosh also enjoys the synergy.

“It’s a win for the community, a win for the arts. It has already given both groups a great feeling of collaboration in building something together.”

One of the surprising effects of working together is noted by Jenkins.

“When it was confirmed that we were coming here I was working on a some interpretive pieces. And I did a couple of pieces revolving around theatre. One of my pieces, Stage Door, came to me subconsciously, because of the new setting.”


Just the facts

u What: Group on Brackley Bay at Watermark Theatre Gallery.

u When: The gallery is open daily at 10 a.m. One of the artists will be on site until Oct. 12.

u For more information: Call the theatre at 902-963-3963 or check out the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Watermark-Theatre/93969977499?fref=ts.

u Website: http://www.watermarktheatre.com.