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Canada’s original studio tour returns for its 35th year in 2013.
At the end of September, just as the fall colours are reaching their magnificent peak and against the backdrop of Muskoka’s sparkling blue lakes, some of the best artists in the region will open their studio doors to the public.
Along winding roads that take you around the area’s famed waterways, a group of artists will show off the best of painting, pottery, jewellery, woodworking, weaving, sculpture and photography in the area. Over two weekends – September 28/29 and October 5/6 – visitors are invited right into the studios to see not only the finished work, but also the process of creation.
This year, the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour is celebrating its 35th year. In 1979, it was the first of its kind, setting a precedent for the multitude of studio tours that have followed across Canada. In the early 1970s, a handful of artists made their way to Muskoka, seeking the solitude and incredible natural landscapes of the area, buying old farm properties on mostly remote roads. Banding together, these pioneering artists handmade a brochure and sent it out across Ontario, starting a tradition that has brought visitors back year after year.
Today, the brochure is made digitally, and some of the artists weren’t born when the tour first started, but the spirit and the experience are the same. Country roads lead to extraordinary studio settings, and both the process and the lifestyle of the artist are on display.
A perennial favourite stop on the tour is at the Artful Garden near Bracebridge, the studio that potter Jon Partridge shares with his wife Suzanne. A collection of impossibly quaint buildings and expansive gardens, the landscape captures visitors’ imaginations and is a window into the country life.
Even for those who aren’t die-hard art lovers, the tour is a perfect opportunity to get out and drive through the extraordinary beauty that is the region in fall. With studios dotting the roads from Gravenhurst to Huntsville, Dorset to Windermere, visitors get a chance to go some places they’ve never been. Over the two weekends, the fall colours are at their absolute peak, and the views from Muskoka’s roads are unforgettable. In the case of the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour, the journey is as much fun as the destination.
For more information on the artists participating in the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour, check out www.muskokaautumnstudiotour.com, and look for the brochure, distributed throughout Muskoka.
Scott Turnbull is the resident photographer for Explorers’ Edge. He and his wife, jewellery designer Miranda Britton, are also on the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour. Visit them near Windermere, Muskoka at The Stable Studio.