‘a r t f a r m’ is the dream of Margit Nelleman and Victor Vesely, a couple who moved from Vancouver to North Cowichan to live their dream of combining a farm with a gallery and teashop.
Victor was a communications staffer for the David Suzuki Foundation, Margit, a potter and educator who grew up on a farm in Denmark. Now she’s back on a farm, creating teapots that quickly reminded me of the artistic style in the animated portion of the old Beatles movie, ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Elongated pour spouts, bulbous belly-like pots, whimsical tops, elaborate designs painstakingly etched by hand into the teapots. The whole process of making her teapots is labour-intensive, as she doesn’t use a traditional potter’s wheel, everything is built by hand using coils of clay piled one upon another.
One of my favourite creations in the shop is a teapot called ‘High Tea’. The pot is about two and a half feet tall, enough to satisfy any Mad Hatter tea party. (High Tea is the pot she is posing with in the photo)
“All of my pots are fully functional,” says Margit, no matter how big or small, although some people may use them just for special occasions or ceremonial purposes.
This weekend, (Dec. 5th and 6th 2009) there is an open house at the farm. Drop in to taste tea, see Margit's creations as well as that of two glass artisans, and enter a contest to win one of her teapots. Click this link for more details.
When it comes to what to brew in the teapots, Margit and Victor decided to import fairly-traded teas from around the world in an effort to keep artisan tea brewers in business. She cracked open a canister of pine-smoked Chinese black lap sang tea for me. Its fragrance rapidly curled out of the can, the smoke and tea and pine creating a heady fragrance, as did the hand-rolled little balls of jasmine tea. My favourite, though, is their traditional Earl Grey tea that has been enhanced with lavender grown on their own farm. They make other blends with home-grown mint, chamomile, stevia and calendula.
A r t f a r m – www.artfarm.ca 8350 Richards Trail, North Cowichan
That High Tea is quite to testament to the potter’s craft. I do find it very interesting that she doesn’t use a potter’s wheel, but hand rolls her coils of clay.
The stevia in the one tea mix should act as a natural sweetener, so I am quite interested to find out a little bit more about that. As a self-confessed sugar addict I can but hope for something sweer that doesn’t go to the hips.