Cowichan Arts Series: Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery

Visiting the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery

Address: 610 Oyster Bay Drive, Ladysmith, BC, V9G 1B8

Hours: 11am-4pm, seven days a week

If you’ve ever visited Ladysmith – or even driven through – you know that it’s a charming, seaside town with many colourful, heritage buildings and one of the largest holiday lights displays on Vancouver Island. That said, the town is worth a visit at any time of year, especially during the spring, summer, and fall seasons when a stroll down First Avenue or a sunny walk along the waterfront is a peaceful escape. If you’d like to see local artists at work, explore themed exhibitions, shop for handmade gifts, or even take an art class, a visit to the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery is a must.

As the name suggests, the gallery itself is located right on the water, just a quick turn off the highway. The large, blue building is an understated contrast to the colourful, eclectic spaces concealed within it, which are chock-full of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and fabric art. The space is managed and operated by the Ladysmith Arts Council – all volunteers – who are dedicated to providing an accessible, welcoming, and inclusive space where all kinds of art can be celebrated and showcased throughout the year. 


In the mid 1930s, the Comox Logging & Railway Company established the building as a machine shop to maintain their large fleet of locomotives, railcars, and equipment. It was well-built; intended to last for many decades, and it has. The machine repair shop was used for many years, and the building has continued to be used by other organizations in the years since the original inhabitants relocated. The Ladysmith Arts Council and Ladysmith Maritime Society have called the space home since 2006. While several parts of the building have been renovated to house gallery, museum, and studio spaces, the historic structure still maintains its original character, and it’s easy to imagine what the building would have looked like several decades ago.


Upstairs, the main art gallery space holds monthly themed exhibitions; usually group shows, where submissions are accepted from active arts council members. A theme is decided upon, and artists are tasked with interpreting the theme in their own creative ways, using their preferred medium and creating works in their own style. The result is an always-eclectic collection of pieces on display and true representation of Ladysmith’s local creators. You can learn more about the current show and upcoming shows on the LAC website here.


If you’re looking for a souvenir to remind you of your visit to Cowichan, or simply a fantastic, handmade gift for a loved one, the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery gift shop is a great place to start. With decorative and functional art pieces for sale, many of the same artists who show their work in the gallery space also have works and wares for sale in the shop. Handmade ceramic mugs, jewellery, and greeting cards are just some of the items you’ll find there.


Possibly one of the most fun things about visiting the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery is touring the studio space. At any given time, there are up to four artists at work in the space, and you can go say hello and see their works in progress. Most artists work in sculpture, painting, and fabric arts, and are excited to speak with visitors about their work. If you’re on the market for some original art, this is a great place to meet local visual artists and get a sense of their style. Many have a selection of completed pieces for sale in their studio area, and are open to shipping or commissions.


If you’re interested in trying something new or want to progress your craft, sign up for an art class at the gallery. There are several classes offered throughout the year, all taught by practicing artists and suited for those with varying levels of experience. From watercolours to oils, sculpture, fabric art, block printing, and mixed media, there are many to choose from. You can see the full lineup of available classes and register online here.

The gallery space is also proud to have a professional-quality print shop that is available for drop-in use Mondays-Wednesdays from 10 am until 4 pm. If you have a basic understanding of printing, you are welcome to use the space for self-guided work! The drop-in fee is $15.

SPRING ART SHOW: APRIL 19 – 21, 2019

Each spring, the Ladysmith Arts Council presents a self-guided Spring Art Tour which spans 15 professional galleries and home studios throughout the Cowichan region. Pick up a program, make sure you have a method of transportation, and spend the long weekend visiting artists in their own spaces! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and support the arts community in Cowichan. Programs and maps are available at the Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery, and can also be downloaded here.

The Ladysmith Waterfront Art Gallery is an inclusive space and is welcoming to all visitors. The building is wheelchair accessible, and the upstairs gallery, shop, and studio spaces can be reached by stairs or elevator. Please contact info@ladysmithwaterfrontgallery.comfor more information about visiting.

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