The self-directed Artist-In-Residence program provides affordable space for artists of all mediums to create in. It is intended for, but not limited to, visual artists, filmmakers, curators, musicians, producers, directors, writers, and photographers. Artists also have the opportunity to facilitate outreach programs such as artist talks, concerts, studio visits, workshops and exhibitions. These activities are intended to promote interaction and professional development, and provide access for the community to a diverse range of arts practices.

Here is a look at our past Artists-In-Residence...

Red Haven recording in the "Tempest Church". Photo by Nathan Turner

Red Haven recording in the "Tempest Church". Photo by Nathan Turner

With three weeks to spare, it was effortless to sink deep into concentration with our work. Any time in Wells is always an immersing experience. The hardest part was driving out of town.

~ Brendan Steele of the band, Red Haven, IMA’s first artists-in-residence.

Aubrey Burke is an artist from Victoria BC.  He grew up performing with his family, who are all clowns, touring around the province.  Aubrey has spent the last 8 years working in artist run culture where he has worked as a curator, administrator, and organizer of grass roots non profits such as The Ministry of Casual Living, Open Space, and the Integrate Arts Festival. 

While at the Residence in Wells,  Aubrey was working on new recordings and finishing up his first album THE KID TIGER EP that was started in Vancouver BC the Spring of 2015 at the Hammock Residency.


Aubrey Burke in front of Residence building and on top his homemade truck-camper. Photo by Ksenya Dorwart.

Aubrey Burke in front of Residence building and on top his homemade truck-camper. Photo by Ksenya Dorwart.

A Raven Called Crow perched in an open window of one of the Residency out-buildings. Photo by Ksenya Dorwart.

A Raven Called Crow perched in an open window of one of the Residency out-buildings. Photo by Ksenya Dorwart.

I'm A Raven Called Crow. I perform as a singer-songwriter, I am also a painter and experimental shadow puppet artist. I'm currently based in Vancouver. This summer I am wanderlust, heading east to Montreal before returning to perform at my 4th ArtsWells this year.

To me, song writing is a lot like digging for gold, using words and a curious mind I dig into intricate and hidden cracks in my personal history, and the history that surrounds me. Singing into these unknown, taboo, and unconscious caves of myself, and my culture helps me lick my wounds and find more intimate ways to relate to others and my surroundings.  

Sometimes magical things happen with my songs. Once, on a rainy day over breakfast in Sydney, Australia, I wrote a song about an imagined character named Jamie. It resonated with me in an abstract way. The lyrics were, I thought, entirely fictional.  6 years later, after hitching a ride in Merritt BC, I met a spritely elder woman named Jamie. I sang her my song. Uncannily, the lyrics told of a very specific part of life. Without even knowing, I had sung part of her story.

One week ago, I arrived in Wells to do my residency with a head full of ideas, only to be mesmerized by this quietude of into a strange forgetting place. I forgot what I thought I was 'supposed' to be doing. I became fascinated by the stories of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs, ghost stories and gold fever. Spending a evening out at Bowron lake and meeting recently emerged hermits got me thinking about all the stories hiding in people, hiding in these hills.

 It’s been three years since my last album, which I recorded with Corwin Fox in Cumberland, B.C. I have been sitting on an ever growing mountain of songs. I’ve decided to release them with a deck of tarot inspired playing cards that I designed.

You can find my first album here

~ Charlie

Practicing in charcoal, ink, watercolor, acrylic and fiber arts, Rhandi Sandford is a multi-media artist from Nelson BC.

 During my month in Wells I have been working on numerous projects, mainly an installation for the Tiny Lights Music Festival in Ymir BC. This project consists of many larger scaled textile pieces, three of which (at least) are large mushroom marionettes.  ~ Rhandi

Most of her work is in pen and ink, which lends well to creating my surreal and whimsical worlds. To take a look at more of her work the website is, if anyone wants to contact Rhandi with questions, poems, stories, or critiques please feel free to email at, Facebook link is : & Instagram is @rhandisand.

Rhea at work in the studio spaces. Photo by Rhea Lonsdale.

Rhea at work in the studio spaces. Photo by Rhea Lonsdale.

I am extremely lucky to be afforded a full month in Wells to focus on my practice. I presented solely digital works for the past couple of years as well as worked professionally in digital media, and I want to return to my practice as a drawer and work on specific technical issues, namely, the fundamentals of perspective and light. In my undergraduate studies I drew primarily from reference, both live and static in figure drawing and photographs, and while I can look back upon my printmaking work with pride I recognize the limitations that not having a thorough handle on perspective had on my work. I believe that style was a bandaid for me, and I will spend the first half of this residency in research and the second in incorporating that style back into my work. Although I am drawing architecture for technical purposes, I intend to develop an idea I have for a body of work which considers impermanence in the structures of society.

To aid my research I brought two texts along with me: 'How to Draw' and 'How to Render' by Scott Robertson are two excellent technical books for artists, drafters and architects. The prior focuses on perspective while the latter does on light. I highly recommend both for new and established artists looking to leap lightyears ahead in their practice (as I hope to this month). I am also referring to a few books I found in the IMA's library: 'A Testament' by Frank Lloyd Wright, 'Drawing Architecture: A Creative Approach' by Paul Hogarth, and the Conran Directory of Design. In addition, I am using online resources to supplement Robertson's books, including's (perhaps literally) exhaustive body of information on perspective. ~Rhea

Pastel Drawing by Cameron McIntosh.

Pastel Drawing by Cameron McIntosh.

Island Mountain Arts gave me an opportunity to come to Wells and experience a wholesome, spiritual break from the city. Over the past several years I have been neglecting my creative, art producing self and waisting my life eating apple strudel watching DVDs. My week there gave me an escape from nonproductive pleasures and some time to do something meaningful.

Upon arriving on Monday morning I was struck by the bright colours of the buildings and the soft rich green of everything else. There wasn't a sole in town and I began to worry until I found the IMA staff members working in the office. I was treated very well from that point on.

 It took me several days to forge ahead on my creative endeavour. To start a piece I need a theme and then some words and an image to match. Before arriving I had a few loose ideas, one about a peanut and others about madness in society. After doodling to get a feel for my colours, and working on a poem I produced two medium sized pieces - one entitled Evil Box about a technological machine used by evil entities and the other a much lighter story about a warm hearted farm girl who who could peanuts in the rain. The light piece was the biggest success but the dark one a record of a very sinister trend in life.

I was extremely pleased with my experience in Wells. The staff treated me royally and it was affordable. It's a lifestyle I could definitely adopt and I am sure it would bring some peace to my soul. If I could find a way to make a living there I would become a resident. Thank you to IMA for existing like the gold in the valleys around the area. ~Cameron

A major rule of writing, is to sit down and force yourself to do it.

A major rule of writing, is to sit down and force yourself to do it.

I discovered Island Mountain Arts Residency Program through friends who had participated and through ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art. I gave myself a weekend off from vending my soaps and natural body care ( between festivals for some time to relax. Since I don't feel comfortable relaxing I decided it was a great opportunity to complete the travel memoir I have been working on since 2013.

My manuscript in progress titled unpacked, covers my five years of living abroad in Europe. I discover alternative communities, what it's like to live with no money in a foreign place, and how to escape from a tumultuous relationship off-the-grid in The Spanish Pyrenees. It's both a luxury to give myself a full week to write and edit, and tortuous to not have any distractions other than completing this goal.


I have locked myself up in the clean and spacious residency house in Wells with my laptop, printer, coffee, and snacks. I've sorted through old notebooks, writing that I haven't looked at in two years, and have started to read, record, and listen back to chapters that I find are polished enough to publish. (Polished enough to never want to read through again).

You can find samples of my writing at and follow on Twitter @alythecoy

Thanks Island Mountain Arts!

~ Aly Coy


Artist book by Thea Fridman

Policania is a personal mind map based on memories, human connections and the connection of one’s self to nature.

 I am the PoliCanit – a mixed cultural person carrying human archetypes such as : a daughter to an Israeli father who’s parents were born in Poland and a Moroccan mother that immigrated to Israel; a mother, a sister, an ex-wife etc.

As I observe the world around me, my “Policania mind map” opens me to images, ideas and possibilities that the Art language help me put them in the world.

The PoliCania Artist Book will be a new space for me to explore and combine together texts, images and ideas that I have created over the last 20 years.

In my stay at the residency of IMA I was working on my first Artist book, that is part of my PoliCania art project. The beginning of the project was in a studio I had in Jaffa (Tel Aviv, Israel), with a video poetry “PoliCanit”.  I came to Wells after I started the work on my book in the Caetani Art Center in Vernon, where I could put some of my ideas to a “test”, by meeting creative people and other artists.

The possibility to be in a creative environment with a private space for life & work was a wonderful opportunity to concentrate in my project and to be open to other voices at the same time. I enjoyed the possibility to meet people of Wells and to get to know the vibrant atmosphere of IMA center.

 During my stay in IMA , and with the generous help of Margaret Inoue, I opened my PoliCania blog that I use as part of establishing my long duration art project. The first article at the blog was dedicated to the community of Wells.

Basically I see my art projects as a way to make my movement in the world, as well as I need to do art and to contribute to the art world as a way to breath well. Therefore, when I can make my art in an environment that support the art – it made breathing and moving much easier to me J

I thank the people of IMA – Julie, Ksenya, David & Leila - for this opportunity.

~ Thea Fridman




Laurie stands in front of a piece from her new body of work "Deafies".

Laurie stands in front of a piece from her new body of work "Deafies".

I spent one month at the IMA Residency creating a new body of work called "Deafies" where I explore what it means to be a Deaf person in a hearing world. The studio provided much desired natural light, and lots of space to spread around while I explore ideas and create art. The Nest was a home away from home, well equipped.

While I am not a stranger to Wells due to long time family ties there, it was my first time as a resident artist, so I enjoyed talking about that aspect and involved the community by offering sign language social nights.

A residency in a place like Wells was perfect - quiet enough to focus on creating art, but also social enough to meet people when desired.  Of course, this wouldn't have been made possible without the wonderful staff at IMA, Ksenya and Leila.

~ Laurie Landry

Last fall 5 northern artists (Lynn Cociani, Michelle Gazely, Mo Hamilton, Suzo Hickey and Sarah Northcott) came to Wells for a self-directed artist residency. Self-directed means there were no mentors or instructors, but there were 5 of us who booked the space together, so we were our own mentors and instructors.

We spent all day every day in our studio space (large, brightly lit classrooms occupying the 2nd floor of the Wells school) and we spent every evening back at the Nest (the residence) discussing, as Michelle put it, our art world domination. 

We had late afternoon critiques of the art we were working on, we discussed technique, pricing, shipping and sales. We picked apart our web sites, bio pics, and artist statements. We resolved to research funding, travel grants, and galleries that pay artist fees.

Because we are such fantastic artists we formed a collective called Fantastic 5, changed it to Fantastic 5.0 to avoid lawsuits, and then changed it to Fantastic5point0 because that works as a hashtag.  Living in 4 different communities – Prince Rupert, Smithers, Telkwa and Prince George – means meeting face to face is difficult, but we will be returning to Wells in 2019.  We can’t wait.
~ Mo Hamilton