At Tapestry, we share our residents’ passion for life and encourage them to continue to pursue their favourite activities and interests—whether they be educational, artistic, physical or philanthropic. In fact, many of our residents find they have more time and opportunity to pursue their lifelong passions once they make the move to retirement living—just ask Tapestry at Victoria Harbour residents Christiane and George.
The couple met 30 years ago in Ottawa, Ontario when working at Bell Northern Research. Upon retiring in Victoria in 2003 they developed a shared interest in contemporary Coast Salish art. Together, they started collecting and commissioning prints, and over the years have accumulated an impressive collection from emerging and renowned artists such as Susan Point, lessLIE (Leslie Sam Robert) and Chris Paul.
Christiane and George named their most extensive private collection of Coast Salish art in Canada Salish Weave. The objectives of the collection have been to further awareness and appreciation of Coast Salish art by sharing the collection through exhibitions, and to create an educational legacy.
Pieces from their collection have been featured at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Legacy Gallery Downtown (University of Victoria), The Museum of Anthropology, the Burnaby Art Gallery, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the National Gallery of Canada, Stanford and Princeton Universities, and even abroad at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Last year, the couple decided to move into Tapestry at Victoria Harbour. Their decision demanded a large downsize and reorganization of their household belongings and of the displayed and stored art pieces. The couple intended to still oversee the collection and remain involved with their community partners.
“It was so important to be able to adapt our space to suit our own needs, as well as to incorporate much of our original furnishings and pieces,” says Christiane. “We found we were able to do so, thanks to the design of our well-appointed Tapestry suite.”
“I did like the wealth of options that the suite offered,” adds George. “We appreciate the second bedroom that functions as an office and den, the fully-equipped kitchen, and the in-suite washer and dryer not to mention the full-service Restaurant and the many other excellent spaces and amenities within Tapestry at Victoria Harbour.”
Christiane selected a large number of original pieces of artwork and prints, making a sizeable donation to Simon Fraser University. Over 200 prints now form a teaching collection, which benefits SFU’s faculty members and students and will later be available to the community, especially to the schools located in traditional Salish territories.
This last donation was the largest the couple made since they started converting their private collection into a public collection in 2015. Works of the Salish Weave Collection are now part of the collections of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver), the University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University (Burnaby).
An introduction from artist lessLIE to Dr. Andrea Walsh, Visual Anthropologist and Professor at the University of Victoria led the couple to contribute to a Visiting Artist Program in Anthropology, followed by an Artist-in-Residence Program within the Summer Institutes in Indigenous Education. Similar programs are currently being developed at Simon Fraser University.
To support these initiatives and others by galleries, colleges and schools, Christiane and George established the perpetual Salish Weave Fund at the Victoria Foundation in 2014. Since then, they provided 84 grants to these charitable organizations, and continue to oversee the donor-advised granting process.
Focusing on education and their legacy, the couple established three other endowments. At the University of Victoria, they created the Smyth Chair in Arts and Engagement currently in Anthropology at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Their work with Simon Fraser University over the last three years led to the creation of the Salish Weave Chair in Salish Art Practices at the Faculty of Education and the Salish Weave Collection support by the Curator, Indigenous Projects at SFU’s Galleries this year.
Christiane and George continue to be engaged with both universities seeking new opportunities as well as ongoing support of Salish artists, and the provision of prints and support to K-12 schools and teachers.
As Tapestry residents, George and Christiane continue to find meaningful ways to connect with the broader Victoria community and enjoy the sense of built-in community offered by Victoria Harbour.
“Meeting like-minded people at Tapestry is easy. We found we didn’t have a need to go anywhere, and it has been easier to settle in,” says George. “The fact that we found this home yet are still able to maintain our work and connections with our partners means so much. It has been perfect!”
If you are interested in seeing a selection of Christiane and George’s art prints, please come to a private Tapestry at Victoria Harbour viewing at the Victoria McPherson Playhouse on Monday, October 30 at 11 a.m. Enjoy chatting with this inspirational couple, viewing Salish prints by six different artists, and meeting a representative of the Victoria Arts Council.