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Ferry Building Gallery's Christmas market returns after three year hiatus

The Great Gifts event at the West Vancouver gallery will showcase a selection of creative wares from more than 35 artisans and artists

It has been a long three years, but they say good things come to those who wait and, judging by the line-up of artists at West Vancouver’s upcoming Great Gifts show, it seems to certainly be the case.

The Ferry Building Gallery will soon be erupting with festive activity as it welcomes the return of its lauded Great Gifts holiday exhibition and market, with stalls manned by almost 40 artists and artisans selling all manner of creations from jewelry and ornaments to toys and homeware.

The event opens with a sneak peak event 4-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, and from then runs every Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., until Dec. 17. The festive event was put on hiatus following the pandemic in 2020, and once more in the years that followed as the gallery underwent a mighty $3.2-million restoration.

Event organizer Leigh-Anne Niehaus said Christmas traditions come and go, but for the West Vancouver community, the Great Gifts show remains as vital an annual festive occurrence as decorating the tree or donning a seasonal sweater.

“It gives visitors the opportunity to do their holiday shopping while supporting local artists and makers at the same time,” she said, adding how it is “joy and meaningful connection” that makes for a lasting holiday tradition, something which the market has in abundance.

“I think any tradition that brings family, friends, and community together in a positive and supportive way is a good place to start for creating good holiday traditions,” she said.

Artist Cathy Beaumont, who will be showcasing her handmade, glass-beaded jewelry, said a valued Christmas tradition is “something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy and cozy” during the long season of plummeting temperatures and minimal daylight.

It is anything that brings about "hygge," she said, referencing the Danish term that describes a cozy and content state of being.

“This is a lovely, lovely market. It does exactly that,” she said.

“The folks who curate it are really discerning and have an excellent eye for design, it invites a sense of warmth and, of course, now the Ferry Building Gallery has reopened, it’s the perfect place for it. It’s such a lovely little jewel box of a gallery.”

Beaumont said she will be in “really good company” and surrounded by “work of excellent quality,” adding that she is most excited to see the wares of all her fellow creatives.

It’s an alluring prospect for all of the artists taking part in the event, said Heather Johnston, who has been a regular at the market throughout its two-decade history.

Johnston, who is primarily a photographer but will be showcasing her most recent artistic venture of digital painting, said the market is a chance for those on the North Shore to show support for the local arts scene.

“This is about love and support for the local community, giving attention to local artists and giving attention to what really is a beautiful, inclusive little gallery,” she said.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.