Yukon artists hone skills in PEI

The irony is almost as discernible as the works of art on the wall. Even with personal instruction from world-class musicians, painters and the like, the collection of young artists from throughout Canada will likely learn as much from each other, said Whitehorse's Kirsty Marie Wells.

Summerside, PEI

The irony is almost as discernible as the works of art on the wall.

Even with personal instruction from world-class musicians, painters and the like, the collection of young artists from throughout Canada will likely learn as much from each other, said Whitehorse’s Kirsty Marie Wells.

“I’ve seen things I’ve never seen before; I’ve seen throat singers from Nunavut, I’ve seen highland jiggers from NWT and countless songwriters and singers and instruments,” said Wells. “I will probably learn more from being around all these people than I will from the mentors.”

As a part of the National Artists Program and in Association with the Canada Summer Games, three Whitehorse artists are currently in PEI, studying under the tutelage of renowned local artists, exhibiting their work and preparing for a collaborative presentation at the closing ceremonies of the Games.

“Some of us will be on stage, some of us will be behind the scenes,” said Wells. “It’s a secret, so I can’t tell you.”

Selected through an application process overseen by Sport Yukon, government Tourism and Culture administrators and National Artists Program managers, the Yukoners are joined by three artists from each province and territory in Canada.

The Yukon’s contribution to the melange of artists is Wells, a visual artist, musician Ben Barrett-Forrest, and singer-songwriter Kayla Ware Dewdney.

“They’ve focused on getting island artists to show their talent or give them guidance,” said Yukon artist manager Sunny Patch. “Or just share their technique—whatever it is they do.

“So they go to these mentor sessions that last about two hours and they have time to talk with the artist and learn from them.”

Unlike the athletes competing at the Summer Games, the three artists are in PEI for the full two-week duration. Aside from participating in workshops, the artists have given exhibitions in the athletes village and community shows in Summerside during week one and at The Guild, a public art gallery, in downtown Charlottetown in week two.

Wells, 19, who usually works in encaustic art (painting with colour-infused bees’ wax), has submitted an acrylics piece that is a combination of three separate works.

“I tried to go with an old style pin-up,” said Wells with the quiet confidence of a blooming artist. “My friend asked me to do a piece for him (to get tattooed) and sort of I based the other two around the first piece – and it worked out pretty good.”

The middle piece in her work is of a cartoonish nurse, not unlike Jessica Rabbit. But on closer inspection it comes to the viewer’s attention that the figure is holding a bloody human heart.

“He said I want a nurse pin-up, so I did a nurse pin-up,” said Wells. “Then he said I want a naughty-nurse pin-up, so I did a naughty-nurse pin-up. Then he said, ‘Is there any way you could make it more metal influenced?’ So I put an anatomically correct heart in it and he was happy.

“The other two I tried to have a malice influence in them as well.”

Fittingly, the three paintings together are called “If you want blood you’ve got it,” the name of the AC/DC she was listening to when she painted them.

Speaking of music, if you were to hear Barrett-Forrest play his five-string viola, it would be no surprise that he’s been playing since he was four years old.

“It’s definitely my life’s passion,” said Barrett-Forrest.

“This opportunity is such an incredible way to meet other artists from across the country and to build on ideas that I have in my head and get inspiration from other artists.”

As a member of a jazz quartet in Whitehorse, Come Eat A Cat, Barrett-Forrest, 17, who also plays mandolin, accordion and the clarinet, is receiving instruction he can immediately incorporate into playing with his band.

“Just today I was in an improvisation jazz workshop where a great jazz trio taught us how to improvise even better,” said Barrett-Forrest. “I’m using my instrument as my medium of expression to let other artists know what I’m about.”

Much like Jim Morrison, the front man for the band The Doors, Dewdney, 18, is a poet and does not play an instrument. But unlike the leather-clad Morrison, she has had years of voice lessons and has performed in musical theatre, including Cabaret in Whitehorse.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve been doing some songwriting workshops and some composition work, which I’ve never done before,” said Dewdney. “I don’t play an instrument, but I can read music and I’ve done voice lessons for six years.

“I write a melody in my head and then I write lyrics, then I get a musician to help me work it out.”

As for hearing these Yukon musicians for yourself, Dewdney was one of 12 artists chosen for last year’s Yukon Women in Music compilation CD, and a copy of Come Eat A Cat’s album can be purchased by calling Barrett-Forrest at 335-4236.

Contact Tom Patrick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon RCMP are making an appeal for information in the case of Mary Ann Ollie, who was murdered in Ross River last year and whose case remains unsolved. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read