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Art matters in rural setting

By Donna Merry, North Island Eagle, March 17 2023

Being an artist in a small, rural community is extra challenging: it’s hard to get supplies or advice; there aren’t a wealth of opportunities to showcase your art locally or connect with other artists; and the regional market is fairly small. Even so, the North Island region has an abundance of talent. 

What inspires artists here? What compels them to continue creating? To answer these questions, I ventured to interview two artists who live on the same street I do in Port McNeill. Going forward, I’ve asked each artist to recommend others in the region and will continue this exploration through the suggestions of the previous interviewees. I’m looking forward to the journey.

Contemplating Kathy Harder’s finely detailed acrylic paintings of the boardwalks at Telegraph Cove, rugged seascapes or towering cedars and hemlocks, you know you are looking at the work of a talented painter. Kathy recalls always being creative and finding outlets through the years such as creating posters and stage sets for local productions and taking many photos while adventuring around the North Island and out on the water. But it wasn’t until her children were older that she tried her hand at painting, and discovered she has a very natural talent. Her style is consistent and recognizable, yet Kathy had never painted on canvas until 2017. Since then she’s built an impressive body of work and established an art business selling originals and high quality reproductions.

Her first painting, “Window Reflections” is my current favourite. How long does it take to create such a painting? Her work is incredibly detailed: after laying in background colour, she does most of her work with a very small paintbrush. She uses a viewfinder to limit her focus to a small part of the painting while she works to bring the image to life. “Window Reflections” took longer than most because of the architectural details that had to be perfect to look right. It was repainted many times, she said. Kathy will work on a painting, set it aside for a while, then go back in until she’s satisfied with it. Paintings take 100 to 150 hours to complete, and sometimes longer.

Her hillside home-based studio and Coastal Waves art gallery is full of light and looks over Broughton Strait to Malcolm Island. White walls are filled with originals and reproductions of her work in many sizes. 

She and her husband stretch canvases onto frames for new works and to mount canvas reproductions. Her husband prints images of her work onto archival paper and frames them in his workshop. Each of these processes, stretching canvas, printing and framing has been learned over the past six years and support Kathy’s goal to make her art available to her clients in a form that works for them. She feels joy and awe in the beauty of our natural world here on northern Vancouver Island and hopes to share that with others through her paintings.

Photography plays a significant role in Kathy’s creative process. She credits photography with helping develop composition skills and uses the camera to capture the images that she recreates on canvas. Kathy is a self-taught artist and is always learning and challenging herself to develop new skills.  Kathy’s paintings are on display at Guido’s in Port Hardy and seasonally at Telegraph Cove and art shows around the region. Kathy is driven by an urge to be creative and says now she can’t imagine not painting. Her goal is to complete a painting a month. To view her previous and new works, check out her website at, or on Instagram and Facebook at coastalwavespaintings.  

Angela McQuarrie is fascinated with the magic of watercolour painting, how pigment and water move and flow in ways that can surprise and delight the artist even as they control the brush. This is the feeling that Angela hopes to share with her students: the experience of unpredictable beauty that can be created when the elements merge together on the paper. “Watercolours have always fascinated me - in a way that they have a mind of their own. Sometimes you’re in a battle with them, and somethings they produce something absolutely incredible,” she explains.


Photos — Submitted

Port McNeill artist Angela McQuarrie, who has always been fascinated by watercolours, sketches in her book with a faithful companion at her side.Below, Kathy Harder had never painted on canvas until 2017. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of gluten

By Susan Holbrook, North Island Eagle, March 17 2023

There are always trends in health and diet information. It is widely thought that staying away from gluten is a healthy choice for everybody. Let’s see what the science says about all this. Is it healthy for everyone to eliminate gluten?

What is gluten?

The term Gluten refers to a group of proteins called prolamins found in wheat and wheat-grains (including spelt, emmer, durum, farro, semolina, farina, khorasan, graham, and einkorn), barley, rye, and triticale.  Oats don’t naturally contain gluten but as a result of cross-contamination that can happen during growth and processing, many commercial oat products contain gluten. Look for certified gluten-free options. The main two gluten proteins are glutenin and gliadin. As a powerful protein, gluten acts as a binder which helps foods maintain their shape and structure. 

Who should eliminate gluten?

Anyone with Celiac disease should eliminate gluten entirely. It is a chronic intestinal inflammatory disorder caused by an intolerance to gluten and is autoimmune in nature.

Those with gluten sensitivity may tolerate a small amount but should try to keep gluten to a minimum. Do be aware of gluten free foods that are extremely high in carbohydrates. My choices for gluten free breads are on my website (recipes) and I have found some products at the IGA that are good. Those being GluteNull Coconut Ciabatta and Almond Fatty Buns in the freezer section. Also, La Tortilla Factory Cauliflower Tortillas with Cassava flour are reasonable. Read labels.

Should everyone avoid gluten? 

Some people with autoimmune disorders may do better avoiding gluten. In a 2019 study, 34 women with autoimmune thyroiditis were tested. The study observed the effects of a gluten-free diet over six months. When levels of antibodies and other metrics before and after the dietary change were compared, results indicated that those suffering from this condition did benefit from avoiding gluten. Other studies have shown similar results for other conditions also. However, for the majority of the population who don’t have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and certain autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, there is no scientific evidence that removing gluten from the diet is needed for good health. 

A study found that a month-long gluten-free diet may cause disruption to the gut microbiome and weaken immune function, leaving those on such a diet open to dangerous bacterial overgrowth.

Keep in mind that gluten is not consumed in isolation. Some people who think they are sensitive to gluten may be reacting to other food ingredients, such as poorly absorbed carbohydrates present in wheat and many other foods, such as the FODMAPs. 

The culprit may not be gluten itself but rather what we often accompany it with—unhealthy junk food high in refined sugar and food additives and chemicals. Keep in mind, swapping out processed cakes, pizzas, and donuts for nutrient-rich fruits and veggies could lead to a newfound sense of vitality! 

See my website for recipes and gluten free ideas. Even if you aren’t cutting gluten out entirely, it doesn’t hurt to eat less or at least eat gluten containing foods that are healthy.

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