A bit of whimsy: real estate and gathered bits inspire Annapolis artist

Heather Killen hkillen@annapolisspectator.ca
Published on July 30, 2014

An Annapolis County woman finds the stuff for her dream houses down by the seashore.

Victoria Zern opened Whimsical Bits and Pieces Gallery and Shop in Lawrencetown in June. This home-based gallery features her Storybook Vignettes, handmade storybook houses, inspired by the real homes she sees around the Valley.

As a Calgary-born come-from-away, she says she has a deep appreciation for the everyday sights that locals often take for granted. Eight years ago, she and her husband took a trip across Canada and fell in love with Nova Scotia. Two years later, they bought a house in Lawrencetown and decided to retire here.

“It’s such a beautiful place with so much to offer,” she said. “Once we were here, we knew we were done.”


Expressing her imaginaton

Being able to express her imagination through writing and artwork is a dream come true for Vern. Her professional background is in corporate commercial property management and marketing for shopping centres. 

“For many years, I only dabbled in creating,” she said. “As a child, I won many contests for sketching and creative writing.”

Occasionally, she made things to sell in unique little shops in Edmonton, Alberta. She also wrote articles that were published in local newspapers. Her storybook houses started when she grew bored making decorative birdhouses.

She says she starts with a story and then builds a little house around it. She has made mini-homes inspired by places that she’s seen in Berwick, Mud Creek, Port Williams and Canard.

“It’s my intention to celebrate the way of life here, the way it was historically and into today,” she said. “I want people to see what I see when I look around. This is my way of giving back some of the warm welcome we’ve received here.”


Odds and ends tell story

Zern says she brings the stories to life with the odds and ends she picks up in her travels. It could be magazine clippings, bottle caps, shells, wire, beads or pine cones that eventually tell the house’s story.

Each of her storybook houses is numbered and unique, taking her between two and six weeks to create depending on how detailed the story. She builds the house and then adds the details in bits and pieces that tell the story.

These decorative houses can be displayed in homes, cottages, sunrooms or verandas.   She also loves to beachcomb along shorelines like Gilbert’s Cove, where she finds the seaside treasures that she turns into pieces in her Garden by the Sea collection.

These arrangements are made out of the shore rocks, driftwood, seaweed and shells that Zern can’t resist picking up along the way.

“Alberta is all about big – the big Stampede, the big mountains, the big mall­ – but that’s it. Here you can always find something neat on a back road,” she said. “There’s a lot to be found on the roads less travelled.”

For more information on Zern and her gallery, visit online at www.whimsicalbitsandpieces.com, or in person at 390 Carleton Road, Lawrencetown. Call 584-7050 for gallery hours.