By Lynn Arnold-Cox, Nicola Valley Arts Council board member.

Being a board member, volunteer and artistic participant of the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council has given me so many gifts. Not the least of which is the confidence to experiment and express my creativity publicly.

 Before arriving to the Merritt area, I worked with my hubby running a variety of businesses including a floatplane service, remote canoe/kayak outfitting, bed and breakfast, catering, gravel pit, heavy equipment, airport fuel supply and, garbage collection! These adventures left precious little time for quiet contemplation. But now, retirement allows me to fulfill my desire to be an “artist”.

 At first, I hesitated to use the term “artist”, as I did not feel deserving of the title. But finally having time and space, both mentally and physically, opened the door for self expression.

 In my youth, I spent time working with my hands. There was always at least one artsy/crafty project on the go. My high school teacher introduced colour and rich textures of fibre arts dyed from plants, trees and bugs. She sewed the seeds of deep interest — which ultimately turned to an obsession — for all things made of natural fibre and of objects collected from my environment.

 On foraging walks, I rarely return home with empty pockets. Rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, bark, reeds/grasses, have arrived at our home to be incorporated into one of my creations.

My happiest times are with furry friends and a patient husband willing to carry the larger/heavier pieces.

 I am immensely satisfied expressing my passion for making designs with leaves and flowers, using natural dyes and incorporating found items. I have also `learned that creativity and inspiration comes to each of us in unique ways and can not be forced; the key is to relax and be receptive.

 And, “to create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage (Georgia O’Keeffe).”

 My involvement with the NV Community Arts Council has taken my endeavour to a new level by connecting with a purpose with other artists and volunteers. This group of incredibly inspired individuals offer so much in friendship and support. Being exposed to their dedication, hard work and artistic intelligence enriches my time working with the Council, the creative staff and students of the programs, and the generous patrons of our regional arts council.