An interview with Roksan Kohen-Parfitt, our first featured artist in the upcoming Web of Life workshop series—by Justine Apostolopoulos

A naturalist artist at heart, Roksan Kohen-Parfitt says she is lucky to have found her sweet spot on this planet, in Galiano Island, a place where she feels closer to true nature. It has been a long journey from busy Istanbul streets, where she grew up, to the peace and beauty of Galiano“a dream come true.” 

Inspired by nature, interconnections, and concepts of time and space, art has been Roksan’s coping-mechanism since she was very young. She has grown to work mostly with pen and ink, water colours, acrylics and oils, but says that her expression can take any form of discipline at any time. “It is vitally important to me to keep observing and making connections. The process is my teacher. The practice helps me grow, fulfills my heart, and the time I have on earth meaningfully.”

Since moving to Galiano Island in 2012, Roksan has worked hard to bring the practice of art to those around her. She is the founder of Yellowhouse Art Centre, which opened its doors to the community in 2017. A non-profit, accessible, and safe space for arts and creativity, Roksan says it “began organically” and has been shaped by the creative imaginations and needs within the community. Yellowhouse hosts a variety of art courses for adults, youth, and kids, as well as life drawing, sewing nights, artist residency, art therapy and retreats, family sessions, performances, and workshops. 

Yellowhouse will be the location for the upcoming Web of Life workshops, which braid together science and art, with participants learning about and illustrating the marine life documented on the Biodiversity Galiano Project, integrating their work into an interactive data visualization being designed as a bioregional resource for natural history education

Roksan feels drawn to the Web of Life workshops because of her affinity with nature, and also because the more she learns about the natural history that surrounds her, the more she recognizes the responsibility to look after it. These workshops will focus on connecting people with the biodiversity that surrounds Galiano Island. As an artistic guide to participants in the workshop, Roksan will help them forge personal connections with that biodiversity.

“These workshops help sustain a healthy environment for the community by enabling the dance between knowledge and the creative processes,” she says. “I personally look forward to all the collaborations and the learning that will occur during the project, which I believe will feed all of our minds and spirits.”

Roksan’s workshop is on Saturday, January 4th, from 1:00-4:00pm, at the Yellowhouse, and will focus on jellyfish, anemones, comb jellies and sponges. The workshop will be co-facilitated with Andrew Simon, of Biodiversity Galiano, who will give a brief introduction to the project, and explore some of the biological connections we share with these diverse forms of life.