David and Holly Graff are something of a Renaissance couple. Not only do they create abstract gilded panels, glass pieces and coveted metallic sculptures reminiscent of 15th Century Venetian masterworks using contemporary techniques, their Gilt Studio Gallery is only one of their creative outlets. The two came together purely by chance fifteen years ago when Vancouver-based songwriter and architectural faux-finisher David met American ghostwriter Holly at a mutual friend’s Bowen Island birthday party.
By the time they met, David had already begun the transition from decorative interiors to fine artist with his first commission, two gilded gold leaf panels for Holt Renfrew’s former location in Vancouver’s Pacific Centre.
Eventually setting up shop where they met, David refined his gilding and resin techniques. Holly, for her part, put her Fine Arts degree from New York’s Houghton College to work by completely reversing the David’s process for his large wood (later aluminum) panels and applying it to glass housewares for more affordable, entry-level acquisitions. Each day they drew inspiration from their 550 square-foot Artisan Square workshop and gallery’s of Howe Sound to the east, UBC to the south and the Sunshine Coast to the west.
The couple’s personal and artistic partnership has seen Gilt Studio Gallery grow from craft-show mainstay to securing representation by Yaletown’s Artworks Gallery and, finally, building an impressive international reputation thanks to installations such as the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, Whistler’s Listel Hotel elevator bays and, most recently, collaborating on the copper underside finish to Haidi artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’ colossal SEI public sculpture at the Vancouver International Airport’s McArthurGlen.
Success has allowed the pair to keep the views they love on Bowen Island while many other artists are being priced out of their studios by the relentless forces of real estate appreciation. So the future, at least for Gilt, looks golden.
Your desert island item?
David - as a songwriter and former professional musician, I'd have to have a guitar.
Holly - a shipwreck load of good books. Oh, and my glasses!
Your fave weekend getaway around Vancouver?
David - Vancouver Folk Festival or Pemberton Music Festival
Holly - anywhere with David
What's your go-to weekend activity on Bowen/the North Shore/West Van?
David - going to the beach with my wife
Holly - spending the day at a Bowen beach with a picnic and bottle of bubbly
Where do you go to celebrate a special occasion on Bowen/ the North Shore/West Van?
Both: David - on Bowen, it's Rustique Bistro
Holly - Rustique Bistro on Bowen
Where do you go for inspiration/to think on Bowen/ the NS/West Van?
David - on Bowen, it's Killarney Lake, and on the NS, it's Ambleside
Holly - Tunstall Bay on Bowen
Where do you go to get caffeinated on Bowen/the NS/WV?
Both: Definitely Artisan Eats Café on Bowen Island!
The book you're recommending to friends right now?
David - Making Rumours by Ken Cailett
Holly - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell