Each year that the Mount Arrowsmith Skating Club hosts its show on ice, the Alberni Valley Multiplex is filled with decorated themed props. At the end of the show, the large backdrop that takes up nearly the entire width of the rink gets put away to be reused for next time. For the past six shows, Andrea Cole has been given free reign to take that blank slate and transform it into a colourful piece of art.
This year is no different. Andrea worked for one month putting the backdrop together for this month’s performance, The Enchanted Forest On Ice, taking place Friday, Feb. 24 at the AV Multiplex.
Cole had no personal ties to the club originally, but got involved through word-of-mouth. As a long-time artist and creative child, her recent background includes working with the props department at a theatre in Ottawa before furthering her education in graphic design. She also has a collection of paintings on canvas that she completed for exhibits.
When Cole moved to Port Alberni, she was approached to see if she would volunteer her talents for the skating performance.
“Someone asked me if I would do it because she knew I was an artist, and I have been coming back every year,” Cole said.
She remembers the first backdrop she did for the ice show was of a pirate ship for Peter Pan, which fit well with her experience in Ontario working on props for Disney and other movie sets.
“This is a lot more fun because I can be more involved and a lot more creative,” Cole said. “It is like doing a giant kid’s colouring book but at home I am more fine-tuned on my canvas.”
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She works alone in the space above the Little Bavaria restaurant with everything spread out on the floor. The canvas measures about 16 ft. by 40 ft. and she typically spends about two hours at a time working on it. She said she tends to get lost in her own space, but the job allows her to get out in the community.
“It gives me a bit of a purpose for my art,” she said. “I like doing something for the community and it uses my skills, which I like to do.”
Cole recently contributed to the Echo Pool mural project and would like to exhibit her work in more shows.
Her fairytale-inspired backdrop, complete with trees, bugs, and toadstools, as well as a high-energy skating show, can be seen on the evening of Feb. 24 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at Echo Centre.