Barn raising

In an ever-changing part of Willoughby, where old farms butt up against new subdivisions, is a tired looking grey barn. Lacking paint or historical value, it’s not eye-catching

That is, unless you are Betty Spackman, an internationally known artist who planted herself in Fort Langley three years ago, looking to make a connection with a community and find a space where art and creativity could flourish.

In one back corner in the barn, wilting sunflowers dangle in purple beauty on a canvass of another Fort Langley artist’s work.

It’s here in this barn where magic has taken place, where people have walked in as regular people and emerged artists —where Trinity Western University art students hosted their very first showing to the public, where others find their inner artist.

It could almost be said this old barn has been a muse of sorts for the many artists who have walked through the barn doors.

“I have always wanted a barn as a live-in studio. When I found this Langley barn in in January 2005 to use as a studio I was thrilled,” she said. “I could barely afford it but the kind of work I do requires a lot of space and this seemed perfect, except of course for the lack of heat, toilet or sink.”

Fort Gallery artists Judy Nygren had her first break-through as an artist in the barn.

An now, among other pieces of art, lie bones of cows, a seal, maybe a crow — all part of a bigger exhibit Betty is working on for the past few years.

It is here, too, that Betty collaborated with long-time Fort artist Suzanne Northcott for a joint exhibit where the two finished each other’s pieces, and here that the artist has completed works for her upcoming show.

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