After years of work to save it, the historic Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency is headed to False Creek in Vancouver, with an open house and launched on August 25.
Dating back to 1927 as a floating house in Coal Harbour, the Blue Cabin was relocated to the North Vancouver waterfront near Cates Park for more than 80 years. Celebrated B.C. artists Al Neil and Carole Itter used the space as their atmospheric studio from 1966 until their eviction in 2015, when the cabin’s site was purchased by Polygon Homes.
When the structure was threatened with demolition in 2015, grunt gallery, Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and C3 led a campaign to save and restore the cabin as an artist's residency. The blue shack with the storybook red trim is considered a rare example of West Coast vernacular architecture.
The August 25 public launch will include the announcement of the cabin's first full season of programming, as well as tours of the facility every 15 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for a maximum 20 people per tour on a first-come, first-served basis. It's a chance to see not only the space restored carefully by artists Jeremy and Sus Borsos, but the 500-square-foot deckhouse--an energy-efficient structure featuring off-the-grid water and power systems--added by artist Germaine Koh and architect Marko Simcic last year.
Meanwhile, grunt gallery, Other Sights for Artists’ Projects, and C3 today announced the first yearlong program at the cabin called Skeins: Weaving on the Foreshore, examining Coast Salish weaving practices.
Skeins's first resident will be Australian Indigenous artist and activist Vicki Couzens (Gunditjmara) from September 15 to October 31, presented in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts. Couzens has led the resurgence of making possum cloaks and has devoted herself to keeping the Gunditjmara language alive.
Her appearance will be followed by three research and residency periods by Angela George (Squamish/Tsleil-Waututh), Janice George and Buddy Joseph (Squamish), and Debra Sparrow (Musqueam).
“The Blue Cabin is a culturally and historically significant work of architecture, and its launch in False Creek will encourage both artists and the public to appreciate the many complex histories that make up the community,” Glenn Alteen, program director at grunt and a long-time Blue Cabin committee member said in the announcement today. “The cabin — and the broader region we now call the Lower Mainland — is inextricably linked to the colonial displacement of Indigenous peoples. As a heritage-focused project, one of our core values is to reflect and engage with the stories of the traditional owners of these lands: the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Master weaver Buddy Joseph considers weaving a catalyst that entwines language, storytelling, and ceremony; we curated the inaugural program to pay our respects while bringing together diverse publics. As a floating structure, the Blue Cabin provides a new way for artists and the public to look at the city — from the water.”
The team says to expect more open houses as the residencies progress.