The small settlement of Vavenby is home to Ecki Manthei, a gifted artist who‘s artwork grows out of his connection to nature, and his drive to follow every new idea with a passion that moves him to create what is in his imagination, without delay.
Ecki’s home stands out from all others in the Vavenby trailer park where it cannot be missed. Two large life-like eagles formed from wood, seem to be guarding his property. Varieties of creatures also made from wood, line the path to the house; and the ambiance of this place leaves no doubt that an artist lives here.
Ecki, and his life partner, Marilyn, arrived in the North Thompson Valley about five years ago. When they saw the trailer court in Vavenby, they “liked it right away and bought it”; a comfortable, quiet place that allows his creativity to flourish.
Ecki says he emigrated with his parents from Austria when he was a very young boy in 1945. He has lived and worked in various northern locations in Canada, and eventually came to live in Cloverdale, B.C. It is there that he began his artistic career.
Seashells were his medium then, tells Ecki as he explains how they lend themselves to be made into clocks for instance, or be used as a canvas for his paintings.
When the couple eventually settled in the community of Vavenby, it is here that Ecki took on art as his life work.
Ecki has transformed one room of their home into an art gallery, where he now displays the numerous ‘Art By Ecki’ creations.
The variety of his work is remarkable; it ranges from usable art, like wooden spoons and clocks, to wildlife and nature paintings. Ecki uses antlers for many of his carvings that depict wildlife, especially wolves, in their habitat.
“When I am walking in the forest, or along a stream, I often see something that gives me an idea for a project,” says the artist, “I may pick up a rock that would be just right to paint something on, or maybe I am lucky to find a moose or deer antler, and I know right away what I want to carve on it!”
He notes that nearly all the materials he uses in his creations are natural; giving the artwork its special character.
Sometimes a person may come into the gallery to view Ecki’s work, and they may purchase a special item of art for their own home. Most of the time though, Ecki and Marilyn market the art work by taking part in craft fairs.
“At some I do well, with others I do not,” commented the artist on selling his work through craft fairs.
The couple say they have a few tentative ideas in mind for marketing; such as going on the road to sell their creations. But right now, they have no immediate plans that they want to follow.
“We like it here in Vavenby,” says Ecki, “We feel comfortable around here, and we do enjoy to be with the friends we have made in the area. For now, ‘Ecki’s Art’ will have its home in the North Thompson Valley .”