Deborah van Hattem-Koff is an illustrator and artist from Sooke, born in the Netherlands. She is also a member of the Sooke Arts Council. Deborah has been drawing, painting and illustrating from a very young age and has been taking art history, drawing and painting classes since the age of 12.
Deborah is also a workshop teacher. She organizes "Sip and Paint” art classes at the Artisan's Garden in Sooke, and also hosts painting classes for children. Additionally, Deborah is a henna artist, creating temporary body art using henna leaf paste.
Deborah's artwork has been displayed and sold in several shows in Victoria, Sooke, the Netherlands and Fort Langley. She recently worked on designing 100 hand illustrated cards for the cast and film crew of the popular Hallmark Channel TV series, "When Calls the Heart".
Deborah been teaching at Amber Academy since September, 2018 and enjoys passing on her artistic skills and sharing her creativity to the younger generation. She loves to inspire and enable others to have fun creating and discovering the artist within.
Jill Warne was born and raised in Sooke BC. She attended Camosun College and Vancouver Island University. It was there that Jill studied Visual Arts, English Literature and History. She was able to explore and develop skills that continue to help her creative process today. After the birth of her first child, Jill returned to Sooke and resides there today with her family. She is a working artist and owner/creator of her own jewelry line.
Jill has been teaching at Amber Academy since September, 2019 and is thrilled to be working firsthand with all the talented professionals and amazing children whose passion create such an amazing organisation.
Nicole was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia. Over the past 30 years she has mastered many artistic mediums such as stained and fused glass, bead work, collage, encaustic and silk screen printing. More recently she has designed and created her own line of women’s fashions.
Nicole has been creating costumes for the Sooke Dance Studio since 2007 and has been costume designer for Sooke Harbour Players’ and the Sooke Skating Club since 2016.
Since 2009, Nicole has been involved in many youth art projects such as teaching art workshops, volunteering in the schools, co-facilitating youth art camps, and co-facilitating three whole school mural projects in Sooke, B.C. Nicole was a Girl Guide and Pathfinder Leader from 2013 - 2018 and has been teaching at Amber Academy since September, 2017.
Calli has been performing on stage since the age of three and has studied a variety of dance styles including hip-hop, ballet, and tap. In 2014 Callie developed an interest in musical theatre and has embraced roles in several productions including “Annie” and “Lionel Bart’s Oliver!”, as well as Disney’s “The Lion King Jr”. and “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” where they played the lead role of “Belle”.
Calli has been a part of Amber Academy since the Society’s launch in 2017. Initially as a student, Calli has also worked “behind the scenes” for Amber Academy as Concert Choir Assistant, backstage as a volunteer for multiple events, and with choreography using her many years of dance experience.
Calli loves working with children and helping them fuel their creativity, and gain confidence through performance - just like Calli did!
Marjorie Baskerville was born and raised in rural New Brunswick, with a deep love of music, often singing old tales of drunken tomfoolery with her father or sitting at the piano with her beloved “Grammie” singing hymns.
In 1979, Marjorie moved to Edmonton, Alberta where she worked and attended the University of Alberta, receiving a BA Special in Sociology. In 1985 Marjorie moved with her husband Ross to Drumheller, Alberta. It was during her six years in “the valley” that Marjorie began exploring her artistic side, getting involved with the local theatre company and joining the Allied Arts Council. In 1991, Marjorie moved to Sooke BC with her husband and daughter Madison. She joined Stage West Players (now Sooke Harbour Players) in 1995, and first performed with them in “On Golden Pond”, in the New Edward Milne Community School Theatre in 1996. Over the next 20 years, Marjorie would be involved in several theatre productions, including directing “Jesus Christ Superstar” and The Who’s “Tommy”. In 2008, Marjorie enrolled in self-guided studies at the Victoria Royal Conservatory of Music, where she studied music theory and voice. Wanting to learn more about the connection between the body and the voice, in 2017, Marjorie completed three years of study with Bisia Belina and Margot Johnson at the SoundBody Studio in Victoria, and is a certified Sound Body instructor. Up until the pandemic, Marjorie was teaching regular workshops and a Tuesday evening drop-in class.
As a singer/songwriter, performer and teacher, Marjorie believes strongly that everyone has a voice, however small or large, harmonic or dissonant, it deserves to be expressed and heard.
After painting herself as Emily Carr, Sheila Thomas decided to become her. She modified a 1960’s school bus into an art studio, packed up her poodle intending to hit the road. She got as far as Shirley when Covid made her slam on the brakes! Disappointment morphed into reinvention. Sheels on Wheels Art Hootenanny was born. Sheila currently teaches students to return to a life of creativity, joy, and problem solving with the power of paint.
Sheila Thomas is an art fraud; she has no qualifications to teach painting. She is however a theatre professional. In the early 80’s she moved from Mackenzie B.C. to L.A. after high school to pursue acting. Immediately upon landing at LAX she plugged up the pay phone with Canadian dimes in hope that her parents would fly her back to a smaller more manageable city… like Prince George. They did not. She trained, travelled and performed throughout the U.S. with a repertory theatre for nearly four years.
In the early 90’s Sheila studied theatre and playwriting at Bishop’s University. She graduated with honours and won a few awards for playwriting: The F.G. Scott Prize in English in 1993 and 1994, the Euphemia Ross Prize in Drama, and the CBC playwrighting contest. Her play, “I Saw it on Sally”, was produced in Quebec City.
Sheila returned to B.C. and pursued a career supporting adults with developmental disabilities. She co-wrote a script, “Lloyd” that starred a non- verbal man that she supported in a group home. Born in a Barn Productions made this short film and it competed on Trigger Street. No prize! No Oscar! Its reward was that it transformed the life of its star; others stopped and listened to the important stories he had to tell. That’s the power of story! That’s the power of Art!
Tamara Nemeth is an energetic and enthusiastic music educator. She works with elementary aged children with instrumental, choral, and musical theater content. Her focus on social justice and equity within education is prevalent in her curriculum and classroom. Tamara earned her bachelor of music at the University of Victoria (‘18) in percussion and her bachelor of education at the University of British Columbia (‘19) in order to pursue her passion of teaching music.
When not playing song games with children, she is often found with a book in hand, and cup of tea. Tamara is currently working at John Muir Elementary as a grade one and general music teacher. She also sits on the British Columbia Music Educators Association conference team. With a firm belief of accessibility to music in all forms and universally designed education, Tamara brings these values to the forefront of her teaching practice.
‘Exist to inspire’ has been a motto James has lived by for the majority of his life, but now being a father to a little crazy independent girl the motto has become more apparent.
Through photography and art James strives to find the “real” in situations and in people. His photography passion was born from an inability to draw or paint so the decision was made to start creating art with light. At the age of 20, James had been using film photography to broaden his skills and hone a passion for creating images in the dark room. This gave James an ornate understanding of texture and interaction with the subject and the medium. The next natural step in James’ development was to complete his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Art Photography at The University of Wolverhampton in England. James then worked for several photographers shooting primarily weddings and studio portraits which gave him vast experience in working with people.
James’ love for Vancouver Island started in 2015 on a trip here with his wife when they decided that this was the place to raise a family. Fast forward to today and here his are with their little Penny and their pup, Marvin. Having been on the island for 18 months James has worked on various published works including a Chek TV special, Vanity Fair UK publications, and Feinth Magazine Winter Edition.
James is thrilled to share his passion for this medium with students through Amber Academy, collaborating with such an incredibly positive and fulfilling fine arts society.
Rowan has been involved in theatre for as long as he can remember, and has performed with a variety of companies including Pacific Opera Victoria and Sooke Harbour Players. He has been doing theatre tech since 2013. Growing up in a family of musicians (both parents are guitar teachers), Rowan has sought out a deep and thorough understanding of audio gear, which he puts to use as a keyboard player in various bands.
Rowan also volunteers as an instructor for the Robotics Club at EMCS, which regularly takes silver or bronze medal at the provincial Skills Canada competition.
Rowan loves working with youth, and hopes he makes a positive difference in the lives of those he works with. He plans to make teaching his career.
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