Participants take part in Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts at Pearson College last year. (Worksphotography photo)

Participants take part in Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts at Pearson College last year. (Worksphotography photo)

Artists descend on Pearson College for annual retreat

Art school combines love of art with summer camp

What do you get when you combine the notion of summer camps with art enthusiasts? You get the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA).

“It’s unique. It’s not your average art class. We’re really leaning towards the retreat idea, the idea that it is an escape,” said Marna Lynn Smith, executive director of MISSA. “It’s really unplugging amongst the trees to be creative and be with other creative people.”

As part of the two-week event, which began on June 23 and runs until July 6, Pearson International College in Metchosin is transformed into a hive of art making. The summer school puts on more than 40 workshops led by local, Canadian and international instructors that caters to a range of mediums, including painting, ceramics, printmaking, textiles, fabric arts, zentangle, music, and writing. Artists of all levels can also stay on or off campus and take two or five-day workshops.

Originally started in 1984 by ceramic artist Robin Hopper and painter, sculptor and printmaker Flemming Jorgensen, the summer school has grown from five classes and 50 people to more than 400 people from around Greater Victoria, the Island and the Pacific Northwest.

Smith said they get a variety of participants who attend every year, such as mothers and daughters, well-established artists who want to brush up on their skills, and those looking to get into various forms or art making.

RELATED: Summer art school sees many returnees to Metchosin

“We really try and keep a standard of quality education with our teachers who are amazingly experienced and do amazing work themselves,”said Smith, who studied music at Pearson College as well. “It’s a gem of a place.”

In addition to the workshops, there are a number of events that are open to the public as well.

MISSA talks, which take place on Mondays and Tuesday beginning at 7:15 p.m. in the Max Bell Hall, includes talks from instructors about their work. New year this, MISSA will host an open studio tour on Saturday, June 30 from 7 to 9 p.m., to give the public a chance to wander around and see studio spaces and meet instructors.

The annual gumbo night fundraiser takes place on Thursday, June 28, where participants get to eat gumbo and keep the ceramic bowl. The Celebration of the Arts gala takes place the following night, which includes a silent auction and musical performances. MISSA will also honour Coast Salish artist Susan Point. There will also be a wrap-up party on Friday, July 6.

For more information on the Metchosin International Summer School of Arts, workshops or tickets to the above events visit

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