Autumn is arguably the most beautiful time of year in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The perfect inspiration, perhaps, for an artist? Parks Canada hopes its national park can provide just that, and is now seeking an artist-in-residence for up to six weeks this fall.
"They get to be part of the park," said Lori Burke, the general manager of the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, which is partnering on the pilot project. "They can go and explore and spend some meaningful time with their creativity."
The residency is at a house in a "beautiful" spot in Ingonish at the base of Franey Mountain, O'Hearn said, which is one of her favourite hikes. Below Franey Mountain is Clyburn Valley, known for its meadows and hardwood trees.
"Certainly an environment to inspire some creativity," Burke said. "We're really looking forward to seeing what comes out of this process."
The one stipulation, aside from the actual residency, is a willingness to engage with the public during the creative process or during a showing of the finished work.
"That's an important component of this," said Burke. "It's not just about the creative practice; it's about visitors to Parks Canada and to Cape Breton, and locals, being able to interact with and explore their own creativity with the artist and learn more about their creative practice and be inspired by the park."
The program is a first for Parks Canada in Cape Breton, but it has been done in other parks, including Gros Morne and Terra Nova in Newfoundland, and Gwaii Haanas in B.C., according to Maria O'Hearn, Parks Canada's external relations manager in Cape Breton.
The Cape Breton residency is open to artists in all creative media.
"That could be weaving, it could be pottery, it could be painting, it could be photography," said Burke. "We haven't put any boundaries on that, and it's open to locals, national and international artists."
The residency is slated to begin Oct. 25, and Burke acknowledges time is short. She said artists who apply should submit a CV, details of previous exhibitions, 10 to 15 images and a statement of what they intend to do.
Applications for the residency, which includes an artist honorarium, can be found on the centre's website.