It’s an overcast morning and the waters around the small boat basin at Hodge’s Cove — a small outport in eastern Newfoundland — are glassy and calm.
Garfield Stringer stands in the pan of his pickup truck, pulling his wetsuit up and fastening it tightly. He carries a long, thin kayak down to the water’s edge and looks it over, pointing out the various stickers and markings which detail its strange provenance.
Gesturing to some Hebrew on the vessel’s side, he tells us of how he first purchased it from a German man, who himself bought the kayak from an Israeli woman who had allegedly used it to circumnavigate the island some years ago.
Much like his kayak, Garfield Stringer is an interesting composite of stories: a welder by trade, he has long maintained an artistic streak. He discovered an affinity for kayaking nearly 10 years ago.
Now, Stringer has combined these elements into a new pursuit: sourcing driftwood with his kayak and, through his trade skills, shaping the debris into unique works of abstract art.
“I’ve been to beaches that had a thousand pieces of driftwood, and I just searched through it and didn’t find anything,” Stringer said, “but then I’ll go to a beach and kayak, and there’s just one piece of driftwood on the beach, and that’s the piece.”
Most of the driftwood Stringer sources are root systems, which he prefers for their twisting shape and interesting grain. More importantly though, said Stringer, is that when he’s looking at a piece of wood, he’s looking for its story.
“I’m looking at it and thinking: does this thing have a story, or does it not have a story?” he said. “If it just works right for me I’ll keep it. If it doesn’t, I’ll throw it away.”
WATCH: See how Stringer creates his works of art in this video feature created by Conor McCann and Rodrigo Iniguez Becerril:
Meet Garfield Stringer, who uses a kayak to find unusual pieces of driftwood that he crafts into one-of-a-kind pieces. Video produced by Rodrigo Iniguez Becerril and Conor McCann 4:27
In his basement workshop, Stringer has set up a small light box, and not unlike his other endeavours, he’s crafted it himself out of cardboard and wax-paper. Here he takes photos of his creations for his online Etsy shop, where he said buyers are largely approaching him from outside of the province.
“Abstract art is not for everybody,” said Stringer. “It’s not for most people, maybe.”
That particular quality which he said he looks for in his raw material is a sense of still movement, the guiding theme behind most of his work.
“Still movement is important in a lot of these pieces. To me, I feel like each piece is some sort of character, and I want to give the impression that they’re alive.”
Like many others across the province, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for Stringer and his family. After his wife was forced to shut down her home salon business, she turned to gardening and growing vegetables to keep busy. A welder for the provincial government, Stringer didn’t see too much of an interruption in his work, but said his art helped in those uncertain moments.
“This [art] definitely helped keep my sanity,” he said. “It’s definitely a way to pass away the time if you’re not allowed to go anywhere.
“Either way,” said Stringer, “as long as I’m doing something creative, at least on the weekends, it just gives everything meaning I guess.”
We followed him down to one of his usual spots where he likes to get out for a paddle and see what he can find. With no way to know if the wood he discovers came from the shores of Newfoundland or across the ocean, Stringer thinks that every piece of driftwood he comes across just might have a story to tell.
“Someone could have chopped it down and threw it in the ocean, the tide could have just dragged it out, it could’ve come from England— I mean, driftwood does have a story, it was a tree, it was alive,” he said.
“I just feel like I’m adding the next chapter to that.”
Some of the Sunshine Coast’s young musical-theatre talent will be showing what they can do when they hit the stage this weekend at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. The production team Synergy at Play, led by Varya Rubin and Bill Moysey, has been running a two-week performance intensive for youth, preparing for their show, A Little Bit of Broadway. There will be three performances: Friday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Aug 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Seats are limited due to ongoing pandemic protocols. Tickets are $15, $10 for kids aged six to 12, five and under are free. Available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music to our ears
There’s a passion to hear live, in-person performance here on the Coast after close to 17 months of doing without. Shows are selling quickly. You cannot get tickets now to see the Rogue Arts Festival show with Brothers in Farms and Staggers and Jaggs at the 101 in Gibsons on Saturday, Aug. 7, the Brandon Isaak concert at the Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour on Aug. 8, or the SoulShine Garden Concert with Dawn Pemberton on Aug. 12. But there is still plenty to enjoy. Here are just a few of the musical offerings in coming days (check the Coast Reporter’s Community Calendar and Coast Cultural Alliance’s website for more). Shows marked “free” may also feature a handy tip jar:
Charlotte Wrinch plays the Clubhouse Restaurant at the Pender Harbour Golf Club on Friday Aug. 6 from 5 to 9 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 8, The Burying Ground will be there with its great, toe-tapping vintage jazz-blues from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Roberts Creek Legion is opening its stage for individuals or groups to play on Friday, Aug. 6 from 4 to 8 p.m. To reserve performance or jamming time, email email@example.com. The Burying Ground plays there Saturday, Aug. 7 from 4 to 9 p.m.
At noon on Saturday, Aug. 7, at the Sechelt Summer Music Series behind the library, hear the reggae rhythms of Pete Catastrophe, followed at 1 p.m. by the Wanda Nowicki Trio. Free.
The 1 p.m. show at Music in The Landing at Winegarden Park in Gibsons features the Gambier Island acoustic duo, Kansas and Johnny. At 7 p.m., electric grit-blues maestros Georgia Fats will get you smiling and swaying. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Free.
The vocal and guitar stylings of Martinez will be on tap from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Tapworks in Gibsons, Saturday, Aug. 7.
Slow Sundays in The Creek, behind the library in Roberts Creek, has another creatively varied lineup for Aug. 8. The Whirlwind Woodwind Quintet starts things off at noon, with teen singer-songwriter Kaishan performing at 1 p.m., and the Martini Madness Band at 2 p.m. Free.
Indoor seating is still limited, but the Coast’s two main movie theatres have reopened. Raven’s Cry Thetare in Sechelt is screening films nightly, as is Gibsons Cinema, which is also running weekend matinees. Check your local listings.
Officially unveiling the latest installation in downtown Timmins windows are (left to right): Timmins James Bay MP Charlie Angus, Coun. Cory Robin, who represents the city on the BIA board; and BIA chairman Jamie Roach.
(Bob McIntyre, MyTimminsNow.com staff)
Six sets of two posters each that are showing up in vacant store windows in downtown Timmins are the work of two Toronto artists. They are, however, on the theme of “Living in Timmins.”
The artwork is financed by a Toronto-based organization dedicated to brightening up downtowns.
Timmins BIA executive director Cindy Campbell says that group will issue a public call for artists this fall.
“Based on Northern Ontario and especially Timmins’ participation,” she points out, “they’re specifically reaching out to indigenous and northern artists to become part of the roster so their artwork can be shown across Canada.”
Campbell says any time someone stops to look at the art, they could realize that there’s potential in that store space.
“All of a sudden that maybe Mom and Pop business idea that was in the back of your head becomes a reality,” she remarks. “‘If I can showcase my products like they’re showcasing what they’re doing, I have a chance at a business.’”
The art was officially unveiled on Wednesday at the following addresses:
The annual Skeena Salmon Art Show is set to kick off this Friday (Aug. 6) at the Terrace art gallery before moving along to Hazelton in September and Smithers in October.
The fourth annual show will have a wide variety of different types of art on display, including painting, carving, jewelry and sculpture.
“This exhibition unites communities across the northwest, showcasing our collective love for salmon,” said Dave Gordon, Skeena Salmon Art Fest president, adding that he is excited that the show will also stop in Hazelton and Smithers this year.
“As sister communities along the Skeena, we rely on salmon to sustain our cultures and natural environments. We very much look forward to seeing how artist communities will come together to celebrate salmon through art.”
Several esteemed artists will have their work on display at the show, like Stan Bevan, Alex and Michelle Stoney, Carly Nabess, Cathrine Blackburn, among others.
Up to $2,000 in prize money is available in the juried section of the exhibit, with this year’s jury composed of Mike Dangeli, Vanessa Gill and Theresa Schober. For the People’s Choice Award, members of the public are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork.
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