CHEK Upside: Artist hoping to turn Esquimalt into an arts and culture hub with new studio

Watch Gillian Turner is hoping to turn Esquimalt into an arts and culture hub with her new Clay Box Gallery

In an unassuming building in the heart of Esquimalt lies the ultimate pottery project.

When Gillian Turner moved from Courtenay last year, she harboured dreams of owning her own gallery to showcase her pottery, as well as other Esquimalt artists.

“It’s been my dream to have my own studio to work out of, but also to be able to support other artists especially during this restrictive time,” says Turner, adding. “I felt that the community and people really needed something to bring joy, to just re-establish a bit of control and choice.”

The front of the building is home to a gallery showcasing clay works, paintings, weaving, and a smattering of other unique items.

In the back is Turner’s studio, which was specifically designed to allow for pottery classes with adequate social distancing.

“I am keeping the numbers very small, the space is quite big back there,” says Turner. “You can come in and you can just forget what’s happening around and just play with clay for three hours,” adds Gillian with a smile.

Today was opening day, with family members and well-wishers all clamoring for a glimpse at the gallery. One of those eager to take a peak was Turner’s longtime friend and fellow artist Shelia Nugent-Smith.

“I just love that Gillian has been able to have this space to offer to everybody,” says Nugent-Smith. “She’s an amazing artist in all fields and it’s just so great to be able to share this opportunity with her and support her in this new endeavor.

Apart from selling and displaying local art, Turner has bigger plans down the road for her gallery and the local art scene.

“I’d love it if Esquimalt could become a destination for people not just from Vancouver Island, but also from the Mainland as a really wonderful area that’s full of arts and culture,” she says.

The Clay Box Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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