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Picton studio provides space for artists to be creative

Kyle Topping and Chrissy Poitras have been expanding their Picton art studio over the years to give other artists an opportunity and space to be creative. Photo by Rachel Stark, QNet News

By Rachel Stark [1]

PICTON – Spark Box Studio [2] not only gives artists a place to work, it provides a living space too.

Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping are co-owners of the studio, a creative space in Picton set up on their property back in 2009, offering artists a place to work.

Poitras and Topping are both graduates of the fine-arts program at Queen’s University. They are both printmakers but do other forms of art as well.

Poitras and Topping started their art studio in this van, still on their property today. Photo by Rachel Stark, QNet News

When the studio opened, the couple used only their van as a workshop. Since expanding the studio into a shed and parts of their home, the pair have been offering a place for artists to be creative through workshops, internships and in recent years, awards.

For the fourth year, Spark Box is granting the National Residency Award [3] to a Canadian artist for its fourth year, giving the winner to live at the studio for four consecutive weeks of their choice.

The chosen artist is given living accommodations including a bedroom and access to the house during their stay, as they work in their semi-private studio.

The winner will have access to all of the studio equipment and will receive a bursary of $1,000 for other needs. Called the Dawson Bursary, it is named in memory of a friend of Poitras and Topping, and is funded by them.

Poitras said helping other artists is a big component of what their studio is about.

“We are very broad about the types of artists and age groups we support, and we love helping them all,” she said.

The art studio contains books, paint, tables and printmaking equipment for visiting artists. Photo by Rachel Stark, QNet News

The deadline for the 2017 award was Wednesday, and now Poitras and Topping are reviewing the applications.

“The contest isn’t open only to painters; we also support artists interested in photography, film, writing, just about anything that is creative,” said Poitras.

Last year’s winners, Christian Morrison and Julie Gibb, used their time at the studio to create a multimedia installation titled Shangri-La [4], a piece representing their travels through North America.

“Throughout the installation we interacted with the Prince Edward community addressing the culture of tourism, sense of place and a search for home,” wrote Gibb and Morrison in their blog [5].

The artists started their North American road trip in Prince Edward County, so the idea of returning to the area to create an art piece representing those travels fit well, according to the blog post [4].

CBC Arts [6] took notice of the project, posting an article [7] about the winners’ experience.

Poitras and Topping said they plan to continue the award and bursary in future years.

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