Posted by: Editor | June 9, 2011

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Colin MacLock

These are the People in Your Neighbourhood: Colin MacLock

By Tim Morrison

EsquimaltReview.com continues a featured series entitled “These are the People in Your Neighbourhood“. In this edition, the Esquimalt Review profiles local resident and artist Colin MacLock and his passion for heritage. If you would like to contribute a community profile about an individual, group, organization, or business in Esquimalt, please send your ideas to Tim Morrison at editor@esquimaltreview.com

Colin MacLock: An Established Artist in a Budding Community.

With its picturesque land and waterscapes, Esquimalt is a fitting home to an active artistic community. One of our local professional artists is West Bay resident Colin MacLock who operates a business in illustration and restoration.

“Illustration is everything from painting large murals to cover art for novels,” says MacLock. “Restoration involves restoring old paintings, antiques and that old ship model that’s still in your closet.”

Esquimalt artist Colin MacLock

MacLock arrived on Vancouver Island decades ago to study art history at the University of Victoria. He fell in love with the region and in love with his partner, Wendy Stevenson, and together the two of them eventually settled right here in Esquimalt. “We moved to Esquimalt to buy our first family home in an area conducive to childraising, general beauty and real neighbourhood ambiance,” recalls MacLock. “We have since lived in this old Edwardian home on Wollaston Street for 18 years. My first community involvement here was joining the fledgling West Bay Residents Association in the early 90’s. The major issue I got involved with was to stave off a massive development of the Salvation Army lands, known later as Matson Lands, and eventually facilitating the means of saving the Garry Oak slopes.”

MacLock also went on to become one of the founding members of the Esquimalt Lantern Festival, an annual festival enjoyed by thousands. In Esquimalt, MacLock found a place where he could combine his passion for art with his devotion to community service.

His list of contributions over the years includes planning the selection and placement of public art at Municipal Hall, Town Square Planning Committee membership, launching an initiative to bring a large part of the Four Core Art industry here by spearheading the Work Point Arts Project (a plan for reuse of the decommissioned old Officer’s Mess and Quarters at Work Point Barracks).  He has volunteered countless hours on Esquimalt’s year-long Visions Committee that brought us our community’s present Vision Statement. He was instrumental with the municipality’s Cultural Advisory Committee in creating our public art policy, and more recently, he is a leading member of the Heritage Advisory Committee that has just presented Esquimalt’s first comprehensive Heritage Policy to Council.

“Culture and heritage continually play a role in my community involvement. The first is foremost, as I am a professional artist.  I see the potential of Esquimalt for artists to set up shop here as the gentrification of urban Victoria has been forcing them out,” says MacLock. “This, of course, competes constantly with the less creative vision recent Mayors and Councillors have as proponents of the ‘high density syndrome’. I have long felt that if Esquimalt ‘encouraged’ the arts to settle here, like the recent bid by the Victoria College of Art to restore the Old Town Hall, things could get a lot more creative around here.”

“I have helped bring the college to the forefront and encourage a shift in thinking toward our Esquimalt Village Plan after I saw the postage stamp size area the plan allotted to public performance space. I also remember that the Old Town Hall is the only heritage building the Township owns, and with our Centennial coming up, it is ironic that at this time, key heritage is being attacked with threat of demolition,” warns MacLock. “A good planner would have included the heritage building in the Esquimalt Village Plan.”

“Army heritage is almost non-existent when one thinks of Esquimalt, but believe it or not it is as big, and in some cases, bigger than the Navy’s,” suggests MacLock. “I launched an awareness campaign in the form of a ‘History of Work Point’ slide show, showing its roots to west coast defences and B.C. joining confederation, highlighting well known figures like James Peters, Sir Arthur Currie, Andrew McNaughton, and George Pearkes, all of which have streets or buildings named after them.”

“I recently attended a Tourism Victoria presentation that unveiled the importance of placing attention to military heritage places as a future investment for tourism,” adds MacLock. “Presently, I am working toward saving the Work Point Guard House, Macaulay Point installations, and other historical sites. Getting our Township’s website to include our rich military heritage is also in the burner right now.”

MacLock’s extensive community involvement combined with his deep appreciation and undying advocacy for local art, heritage, and history serves as an important reminder to all of us to pay closer attention to what defines us as a community and the need for our local leaders to champion the connections to our past.

“As for the future, an election this coming fall will be like none other we have had, and my feelings are that it will be a wake-up call for any incumbent that thinks it is business as usual,” predicts MacLock in referring to a battle currently brewing over the future development of Esquimalt as we approach the 2011 municipal elections.

Colin MacLock cares deeply about Esquimalt, as do many of us. As a small community, we are fortunate to have a great talent and diversity of people with a variety of viewpoints. Some see Esquimalt already as ‘a work of art’ worthy of preservation while others see it as a blank canvas ‘work in progress’ in need of some enhancement.

 One thing that we can all agree on, however, is that Esquimalt is a natural masterpiece enjoyed by those of us fortunate enough to call it our home.

If you would like to become involved in supporting Esquimalt artists, culture, and heritage, contact Colin MacLock at workpointarts@islandnet.com

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