Special to The Gulf News
In the little village of Rose Blanche, there is a blue cottage nestled on the rocky banks of Parsons Point. Surrounded by ocean and with a picturesque view of the community, this cottage is also the unexpected location of the Katie-Lew Art Studio and Gallery.
Marlene and Steve McRoberts, a retired couple from Ontario, purchased Katie-Lew (a name derived from its original owners, Kathleen and Lewis) while on one of their many travelling adventures. After spending two months on the province’s southwest coast, they fell in love with the area, and when given the opportunity to own a summer home here, they decided to go for it.
Marlene, an artist with training at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, had always dreamed of owning her own gallery.
“Showing and selling my art in a gallery has always been on my bucket list,” Marlene said in a recent interview with The Gulf News. “I have some things in a couple of galleries in Ontario, but this is my fun thing.”
Marlene’s gallery demonstrates her talent in a variety of art forms, including pastel drawings, coloured pencil drawings, and acrylic paintings; however, her main media is fused glass art.
Marlene began experimenting with fused glass art about four-and-a-half years ago, when she was nearing retirement. Her work starts out as a 24x24 sheet of glass that she cuts down into shapes to be layered in a kiln. The glass then goes through several stages of firing, depending on the final effect she’s seeking.
Marlene says she loves colour, and it’s quite easy to see that’s true as you explore her beautiful gallery. Her inspiration comes from flowers, the scenery surrounding her cottage, and nature.
“The landscape, the people, the light...it’s a wonderful place to be creative, it really is,” she says.
New mediums, friendships
Marlene recently became interested in pastel drawings as well. While settling into Katie-Lew last summer, Marlene discovered that Horace Champagne, a famous pastel artist, lived just up the hill. He, too, owns a summer home in the area. After becoming friends, Champagne gave her his used pastels, which inspired her to try a new art form.
Since then, she has been adding pastel pieces to her gallery, and since she does not have a kiln to make her fused glass art while she stays in Rose Blanche, pastel drawing is certainly a more accessible medium.
Marlene describes Champagne as a “very interesting and generous man.” He donated many of his art pieces to the community of Rose Blanche for a simple reason, he told Marlene: “the community had already done so much for him.”
When looking at Horace’s work, it is quite obvious that the waves and stormy seas of the area provided him with inspiration as well.
Marlene and Steve feel that their gallery is “less about selling things than it is (about) talking to people.”
Not only do they see people from Rose Blanche, but also many come from Port aux Basques and the Codroy Valley to visit Katie-Lew. Marlene said that she was very surprised with the number of people who came to see them last year, when they first opened the gallery.
This year, they will remain open until early October, and while they do not necessarily have business hours, they are “open by chance or by appointment.”
Marlene encourages people to email her at Katie.Lew.StudioandGallery@gmail.com if they would like to visit.
The couple truly loves to have people come, as they both feel, “(Katie-Lew) would have just been a building without the people.”