Making Waves on Ministers Island
Making Waves: Art On The Island
This was my first time attending Making Waves: Art On the Island but it won't be my last. I discovered this annual fine art auction hosted by Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre at Sir William Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island, is an experience to savour from start to finish.
Drive on the Ocean Floor
Ministers Island is only accessible via vehicle (or by foot) twice daily, when the tide is low & an ocean floor throughway is exposed for a window of time, before the waters rise again with the incoming high tide submersing this unique passageway. This alone makes the trip over to Ministers Island remarkable, but that was just the beginning of this adventure.
Extraordinary Exclusive Event
For this special evening, access to the island was closed to the public and only Making Waves ticketed guests were permitted access. Once all were present & accounted for at the crossing point, we departed as a convoy of vehicles voyaging across the ocean floor (be that a short one kilometre voyage) to make our way to the 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. Fine Art Silent Auction event.
Step Back in Time
Once over the divide, between the mainland & the island, you feel like you have stepped back in time, across tides ~ as the seas parted, and now you are immersed in a natural wonderland of yesteryear. You traverse Sir William Van Horne's carriage lanes, lined with aging hand-laid stone walls, through charming open fields, old-world architectural feature buildings and by a magical wooded forest path.
You find yourself in awe of the historical significance of this property of the former president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. You turn a corner and head up the hill, and the impressive sandstone 'Covenhoven' summer cottage comes into view, as does the spectacular sweeping vistas of Passamaquoddy Bay that Sir William Van Horne himself once enjoyed. I have been before, but I have to tell you ~ this breathtaking view - never gets old.
A Beautiful Event in a Beautiful Place
What an extraordinary event this 'Making Waves: Fine Art Auction' was ~ 50 remarkable contemporary artists were represented in the nearly 100 artworks that were thoughtfully displayed throughout the 'Covenhoven' Summer Cottage & on the walls within the grand white tent situated on the front great lawn. Live music by the talented Kalaya String Quartet played on in the background, trays of tasty hors d'oeuvres were circulated continually, and tables of cheeses & fruit nibbles were available for your pleasure. You were greeted with a complementary refreshing cranberry & vodka cocktail upon arrival, then other offerings of your choice were plentiful at a cash bar in the house as well as within the tent.
Have you 'Herd'?
Free to wander the Van Horne estate & great lawn during the silent auction event, you had plenty of time to see & do it all ~ take in all the artworks, place bids and chat with guests ~ many of whom were passionate art collectors, some art gallery owners, and even many artists themselves. A sweet photographer ~ Jennifer Irving, & her husband David were a captivating couple that I met during my walkabout. Jennifer's piece 'Herd', was in the auction creating quite a buzz (and little bidding war too). It is from her larger photography work entitled 'Wild We Roam' recently exhibited at Tuck Interiors in Saint John, NB as well as a featured article entitled 'Excursions, Discovering Sable Island' in the Spring 2018 Issue of The Maritime [Edit]. Hearing about Jennifer & David's adventure to this protected Parks Canada island off of Nova Scotia and Jennifer's profound life-changing experience in photographing these majestic animals was fascinating to say the very least.
What Lies Behind the Art
The night continued on and I heard more engrossing stories behind the artworks. It gave you a new appreciation of the dedication & passion that lie behind the brushstrokes, the camera or beneath the creative hands that have the natural talent coupled with the intuitive vision to produce these masterpieces. I also met volunteers throughout the evening that were well versed in many of the works of art being offered for auction plus they had a knowledge of the history of the island and Van Horne himself that was quite impressive. Kudos to Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre for putting on such a superb event. It all made for an evening of intriguing conversation & light-hearted competitive bidding fun ~ all for a great cause ~ to support the artists and the Sunbury Shore Arts & Nature Centre's ability to continue to offer quality programs & exhibitions. Proceeds were divided 50/50 between the artists & centre.
Echoes of Yesteryear
What impressed me the most though, over the whole evening, was a sense that this event felt a tad surreal & alive with memories of bygone parties with distinguished guests echoing in the halls of Sir William Van Horne's summer cottage and on the grounds overlooking the Passamaquoddy Bay. The weather couldn't have been better, and it was a lovely way to come together with others to support the arts and learn a bit more about what inspired each artist. If you were lucky, you also left with an artwork keepsake of the experience and a new appreciation for this special New Brunswick treasured island.
Back to the Future
Soon after the evening's activities culminated, and your purchases were wrapped & prepared for travel, you were asked to swiftly leave the island via the exposed ocean floor as the tide and subsequent waters rise quickly ~ submersing the access back to the mainland of St. Andrews. At high tide, this connecting bar is under at least 14 feet of water, so you heed their advice and leave when you are advised, but as you do, there is a feeling that you just experienced something really exceptional.
Extensive restoration work to preserve the iconic Van Horne Barn is now complete and it looks amazing! The interior will soon become an exuberant hub of educational, cultural and community activities & festivals. What a great venue for a rustic country wedding!
The Great Lawn & Bath House
For a more sophisticated venue, with breathtaking views, the Van Horne Great Lawn is available for weddings (or special events) with the option of a large white tent reception for a more intimate setting 'in-the-round' in the iconic Van Horne Bath House perched high on the cliff of the rocky coastline overlooking the Passamaquoddy Bay.
An Extraordinary Experience
Ministers Island was an exceptional place for an extraordinary art auction. It truly was a night to remember. Put this world class tourist destination and this superb art event on your To Do List and when you arrive... tell them the "Maritimes Maven' sent you!
Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre is located at 139 Water Street in St. Andrews by-the-Sea. Creating unique opportunities for people to appreciate the connection between art & nature is the gallery's focus. Click on the link below to discover current & upcoming exhibitions, special events and courses.
The Van Horne Estate & Ministers Island
The 50-room summer cottage 'Covenhoven' is a magnificent mansion, but there is so much more to see on Minsters Island. Click on the link below for local community & musical events, and cultural, heritage & environmental destination information ~ including a walking trail system map.
Enjoy a picnic and a day of adventure exploring the island's offerings. Tidal information is also available to ensure a safe passage to & from the mainland. Remember to take only photos & leave only footprints.
This post was sponsored by Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.