Thanks to a two-year collaborative project, Bella Coola has its own new locally created colouring book.
The Bella Coola Colouring Book is a 24-page collection of contour-line drawings by high school students, accompanied by brief descriptions.
Its introduction to the public happened Nov. 25 and 26 at the Bella Coola Valley Arts Council Arts and Craft Fair.
Meghan Lewick, an art teacher at Sir Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School (SAMSS), coordinated the colouring book and arranged to have them available at the craft fair.
“Visitors and locals, adults and children alike, were delighted and purchased the book, along with crayons,” she said.
“Some people have plans to give it to their grandchildren, while others will enjoy colouring the scenes of local flora and fauna, places and spaces, themselves.”
The project started when Lewick was travelling the long ferry trips between Bella Coola, Bella Bella and Port Hardy.
“There are many hours to look out at the beautiful scenery, hoping to see whales, visit with friends, nap and read and draw, during the journey,” she said.
“While the racks of maps and pamphlets often provide good reading material, there could be more about Bella Cool and the idea to create such material about the valley was sparked.”
Back at school, while teaching drawing and elements of art such as line, value, colour and shape, the topic of contour line drawings was presented.
Students from Grade 8 to Grade 12 grasped the concept and produced wonderful contour line images from observation, Lewick said.
The students even suggested more local themes; art classes warmed up daily with 15 - 20 minute sketching sessions.
“The amount of interest and work grew beyond the scope of a pamphlet - it had the makings of a book,” Lewick said.
“More topics were added to fill out a vision of the valley, dates extended and a new year of students became involved - all with the goal of a colouring book to be produced and completed in time for the November fair.”
Additionally the arts council provided a grant to aid with publishing and back in June the Art House Gallery also hosted an exhibition of the work-in-progress in June 2023 where visitors to the art gallery could colour photocopied images of their choice while surrounded by framed originals on the walls.
Lewick said Bella Coola Elementary and Nusatsum Elementary school students, as well as SAMSS students, participated among the guests.
A layout expert and editor worked closely with Lewick to create the presentation and arrangement of the pages.
Local experts, along with a Hereditary Chief, generously shared their knowledge and their words to inform the pages and provide the language.
The captions - four to five sentences at the base of each page - complement images with descriptions, advice and facts for locals and visitors alike.
Nuxalk culture teachers generously provided vocabulary and checked spelling of the language. Names of the artists, experts, helpers and contributors are published on the opening page.
“This collaborative project was fun to make, is fun to give, connected many people, and resulted in beautiful original art that tells a story of our valley,” Lewick noted.
“Like it says on the last page, ‘colour your life carefully, be good stewards of our land. Feel free to colour outside the lines.’”
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