The Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour marks 35 years with several new stops and new artists. The artist-run, juried, self-guided tour encompasses 23 different studios from Moonstone to Horseshoe Valley, Oro-Medonte to Orillia. It includes numerous artists, painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, wood turners, jewelry and a variety of mixed-media work.

Debra Shelswell has been part of the tour, as a stop in Oro-Medonte, for the past eight years. It is one of the biggest shows she participates in each year.

The self-taught, mixed-media artist marked her first show at Christmastime in 1992, at the former Continental Inn in Barrie. Her fascination with texture is reflected in three-dimensional leather work, wall art, and free-form sculptural pieces.

“Over time I started mixing it with other stuff, crystals, bits I find such as petrified wood,” she said. “It’s definitely not all I do.”

She has incorporated crystals, stone, metal, paint, fiber, glass into her work. Some of the more unusual elements have included coils from a rusty mattress she found on the side of the road. Her newest work features keys, wires and plugs from her mother-in-law’s former piano.

New artists to the 2018 tour include Barrie jewelry designer Jennifer Wolfe, who is a guest at the Breastone Discovery Centre;  Ian Kochberg, an award-winning master printmaker, who recently moved to Springwater, will be showing his work at the Leacock Museum in Orillia; Benoit Royer, an artisan woodworker, is a guest at stop K in Horseshoe Valley; and Kathy Marlene Bailey, an acclaimed Canadian painter, can be found at stop M in Sugarbush.

The tour will also feature, for the first time, the Huronia Cultural Campus Artists. Dylan Court “Bones”, Lydia Hickling and Tristram Pinney, all emerging artists from Orillia, will be showing work in the first annual Im-Edges Show: Art Under 30. They will be holding events throughout the weekend including art demonstrations and a licensed opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 5 at the Port of Orillia.

Two new stops on this year’s tour are Wildflower Farm at Coldwater and Breastone Discovery Centre at Horseshoe Valley.

Shelswell’s studio is located in the same area with two other artists: photographer John Jacquemain, at Stop N, 31 O’Connell Lane; and potter Gary Brierly, stop O, 55 Ridge Road West at Oro Station.

Brierly is the only original member of the tour. He was one of several artists who helped found the tour. Many of the artists on the first tour knew each other from Georgian College, says Brierley, who came from Hamilton to take Georgian’s three-year ceramics and glass program.

He met his wife at Georgian and the couple settled at Oro Station, where Brierley built a separate, two-floor studio complete with showroom, work area and two kilns. He’s been a full-time potter since 1976 and continues to create a wide range of classic everyday pottery including rectangle and square plates, bowls, mugs, and casseroles.

Visit for more.

Photo: Debra Shelswell is at stop Q, 179 Lakeshore Road West, Oro Station, on the annual  Images Thanksgiving Studio Tour, Oct. 5-8


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