Fine art comes delivered on many different forms of media.  Typically it is intended to please the eye and share the artists vision within a literal and figurative frame.  But sometimes it’s much more than that.  Sometimes it has purpose, as well.

Today we invite you along on a recent event we attended hosted by TLC The Land Conservancy of BC.  As work restoring the Ross Bay Villa continues, the care and attention to detail in the projects underway quickly becomes evident.  This article finds us exploring an authentic oilcloth recreation project at the Gonzales Hill Regional Park in Victoria where a highly talented team of volunteers has been working every Saturday since last fall.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Simone Vogel-Horridge is an expert in art conservation and restoration, and she leads this project with a passion that is noticeable the moment you meet her.  Simone and her incredibly talented and devoted team have spent an astonishing amount of time on this project, and the results speak for themselves, as you will see.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

This wonderful piece is a result of layer upon layer of intricate work.  Using stencils, silk-screen and hand-painting, every step of each layer is carefully and lovingly considered and created.  After all the effort and work that goes into such a great item, you might be surprised to learn its purpose is to form the floor covering for the  foyer at the Villa.  It will be installed and a layer of varnish will be applied over it to produce a protective covering.

“TLC is extremely lucky to have such a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers,” says Bill Turner, TLC’s Executive Director. “A number of volunteers have been working weekly at the Villa for 10 years or more.”

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

While we watched these folks going about their work this day, it became abundantly obvious the love and care that goes into working on such a project.  They are all incredibly passionate about maintaining these all-too important links to our heritage, and realize the importance of their work.  Even with that being the case, each and every one took the time to pause their work and give us a little insight into their specific roles in the project.  As each story was shared, we began to realize the true scope of what we were witnessing.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

The entire group of people at The Land Conservancy of BC are utterly devoted to the preservation and maintenance of these very important ties to our past.  We find that when you create an organization with intent like this, people of similar vision and passion are naturally drawn to become part of the broader solution.  This is both exciting and inspiring to see in action.

After the piece is installed at the Villa, visitors will flock to the house to see it in person and as a result will constantly walk on this canvass, gently wearing and weathering it.  This is of no matter to the craftspeople working on this project, the care and attention to detail is no less considered than it would be if this was intended to hang on a wall.

While at the event, we also captured a few HDR images to visually express the personal experience we had.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

This is a tool of the trade, and is of itself an interesting artifact to take in.  This scene speaks of a time before the advent of computers and digital graphic design.  Things took much longer to create back then, and each stroke, each layer created embodied the spirit of the artist and their vision. This adds so much character and interest.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

Like a choreographed dance, the artists move and inspect the piece as they are working on it.  Layers are added ever so carefully, and with the deepest of expressions.  The results literally reflect this energy.  As the visitor takes in the unique design, looking at it with and through diffusion by varying angles of light, different elements come to the foreground and become dominant.  The number of layers and details in them literally come to life.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

In this square that is in varied states of completion, we can clearly see the layering process.  There are countless squares that make up this fabulous piece, that together will almost identically resemble a period-correct design that was used as the template for the print we see here.  The last shot shows an example of what it will look like once it is finished.

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

The group has come up with a great method of fundraising for the project, and is a fun way for everyone to get involved and be part of this exciting initiative.  TLC offers squares that can be sponsored individually for $10.  Sponsorship allows the donor to put their name and/or a drawing underneath their square for future generations to discover.  What a fabulous way to become part of history!

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ross Bay Villa Oilcloth Project – Victoria, BC, Canada

If you could like to see the Ross Bay Villa oilcloth project up close and personal drop by the Gonzales Observatory in Gonzales Regional Park, Victoria, every Saturday from 10 am to 12 noon (until June 16). The final 13 by 7 foot, hand-crafted oilcloth will revealed at the Canada Day Lawn Party at Ross Bay Villa.

“With the completion of the oilcloth project and several more additions to the house, Ross Bay Villa will be transformed into an exciting historical interpretive center for visitors. If you are in the two rooms (drawing room and dining room) that have already been restored, it is almost like time travel,” says Turner.

It really means a lot to us to have a chance to work with The Land Conservancy of BC.  Only through the work of such organizations, when supported directly through the community both near and far, do important works like this find accomplishment.  It is both an honor for us to have a chance to photograph such great events and subjects, but also participate in doing our bit to help TLC move their initiatives forward.  Through working together we can all reap the benefits of these efforts.

Stay tuned for our next installment which will find us at the Ross Bay Villa where an active archeological dig was underway as TLC readies the grounds to recreate an authentic garden.  We also get a small peek inside the gorgeous house, architected in the classic Gothic revival style.  We plan on heading back to the house soon to do an extensive photo-shoot; definitely something to look forward to!

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit us here today, we really appreciate it.  As always, we encourage all our visitors to leave us any comments you may have as we really do love to hear from everyone!!




    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much, Heather! Stay tuned, we’ve got another post coming in the next few days highlighting the Ross Bay Villa itself and an archeological dig underway there! We really appreciate all your kindness & support, my friend, many thanks!

  1. avatar Edith Levy says:

    You did a great job on documenting the restoration. Wonderful candids.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you ever so kindly, Edith! We really appreciate your comments and support here today!

  2. avatar Jim Nix says:

    wow Toad great documentary work here, keep it up and hats off to all of them for their efforts to preserve!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Jim! We’re excited beyond words to have a chance to work with these great people and help spread their news here! Thanks so much for taking the time to pop by, and for leaving us your wonderful comments, my friend!

  3. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    Seriously, awesome documentary work buddy. This thing looks fabulous. Kudos to all of these skilled and dedicated people! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Adam, we are so very proud to be part of it all! Everyone really appreciates you taking the time to visit and leaving us these wonderful comments for everyone to enjoy!

  4. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Nice photo documentary work. I so much more appreciate hand detailed work vs. the digital creations these days. It’s going to look amazing when finished. Looks like a wonderful dedicated group!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It really, really is, Rick! Thanks for taking the time to swing on by and check this out, and for leaving us your great comments here today!

  5. avatar Mrs. Mudpuppy says:

    Awesome work Toads, I had no idea of such a thing as oilcloth! It is definitely a work of art!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you SO much Mrs. Mudpuppy! We’re so pleased to have a chance to work with these great folks and help spread the word of their great work here! Many thanks for taking the time to swing on by and see us today, we really do appreciate it!

  6. What an amazing piece of work these volunteers produced! Thank you, Toad, for highlighting their work. So many such volunteer groups go totally unnoticed, even by those who appreciate their output.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      That really means an awful lot to us, Mark, thank you my friend! We really appreciate all your kindness & support!

  7. Amazing series of images documenting a fascinating and intricate project. Top Marks my friend

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You, sir, are a true scholar and a gentleman my friend! We sure do appreciate your kindness and friendship here, good sir. This is truly a project that is amazing to see, so please stay tuned for our next installment coming right up!

  8. avatar ehpem says:

    Great post Toad. I am so glad to see this up close. I know one of the people in your photos, but did not know they were working on this part of the project. Very interesting, I will have to check it out for myself, especially as the Observatory is a stone’s throw from where I live.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I actually believe they just completed that project. The oilcloth will be installed in the foyer of the Ross Bay Villa here in the very near future as TLC gets ready for the big Canada Day Lawn Party on July 1st!! We’re planning on attending to grab a few shots of the activities, perhaps we’ll see you guys there?

      • avatar ehpem says:

        It would be great if we can make it to the Lawn Party, it would be fantastic to meet you in person. I will check with my ‘social coordinator’ and pm you about whether we can make it.

        • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

          MOST EXCELLENT, my friend!! We love to hear this! If not for this event, we will find a way to get together soon. June has been very busy for me (moreso than originally expected) in my engineering tasks, so I apologize for the delay in trying to make these plans sooner.. I sure haven’t forgotten!

  9. […] properties on their blog. Posts currently feature Ross Bay Villa in Victoria and include A Project of Love, An Afternoon at the Villa, Tea at the Villa, Dinner with the Roscoes, and Catching Butterflies. […]

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It’s a real pleasure for us to have a chance to work with the great people at TLC, and we really appreciate all the support they show us here!

  10. Excellent work Toads! What a magnificent task all of these people have taken on! You truly did an outstanding job documenting this as well my friend! I know they have to be happy to have you guys on board for this project.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much Michael! Your ongoing friendship & support means a whole lot to us!