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House Beautiful: Video art gallery tour showcases zen, urban, country homes

Volunteer group Gallery Associates are celebrating their 70th anniversary

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Online House Tour

WHEN: Sept. 18-Oct. 30

WHERE: Watched online by ticket holders

TICKETS: $35 through the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

NOTE: This is a Gallery Associates project and all proceeds go to support exhibitions and programs at the gallery

A stunning online tour of five magnificent Victoria homes begins next Saturday, Sept. 18, and runs for six weeks.

It’s a fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, organized by the Gallery Associates, and event chair Carol Anne Harper believes it features some of the most interesting and gorgeous houses ever included on the tour.

“We considered an in-person tour this year but decided it was not the right time to have nearly a thousand people going through a house. Other groups have done live tours and reduced the number [of guests] and increased the prices, but we didn’t want to do that.”

She added all of these homes, which are a variety of sizes and styles, would typically never be seen on a tour because they are either less accessible than most, have problems with parking, or have other features that make the owners reluctant to offer them in person.

“For instance, one of the houses is on an island, another has 42 stairs — and they are all very, very special,” she said.

This is also a special year for the volunteers group too, as the Gallery Associates are celebrating their 70th anniversary. The group organized a house tour for the first time in 1953 and since then has raised over a million dollars through various efforts.

“This is our flagship event,” said Harper.

She said this year’s tour has a few new angles and is designed to make guests feel as if they have been invited into homes by the owners themselves.

“Each video tour is about 15 minutes long and personally guided by the [unidentified] owner who describes things about the house, the art, decor and other unusual details. It will be as if we are seeing everything through the owners’ eyes.”

In previous years these tours have showcased local artists, but that is difficult to do with the current format, so this event will highlight the creations of members of the Floral Artists Guild including Jennifer Bennett, Sharon Forrester, Ann Francis, Lynne Thompson and Susan Weeks. Another new aspect, and something Harper is delighted with, is the tremendous increase in community support.

“We have large production costs this year because of all the videos, but people have been very generous and we have 19 sponsors, which is more than ever before.”

She hopes that the number of ticket buyers will rise too and approach pre-COVID levels of close to 1,000. The organizers believe people will like the fact that they can watch the five videos over and over, as many times as they like over the six-week run, rather than having to tour all of them on one weekend.

The homes include everything from nautical touches and rustic furniture to contemporary décor and fine art, and locations range from waterfront to forest settings.