(photo: Jan Cox)

An Island souvenir

Create your own at the Bottle House in Cape Egmont

Way Up West | by Jan Cox

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Tucked away on picturesque Route 11 in Cape Egmont, sits the very unique Bottle Houses. New owners (2018) Angie Cormier (and husband) have embarked on an innovative idea for the attraction. Angie invited well known PEI visual artist Lucie Bernadette Bellemare to become the Bottle House Artist in Residence. “I have known Lucie for a number of years. I love her creativity and ideas. We are both interested in recycling and I wanted to add something to the experience,” says Angie.

The concept is working. As visitors stroll through the remarkably beautiful gardens surrounding the Houses, “Entrea lala” a metal sculpture made from recycled parts, stands tall beside the sea swept grasses. Created by Lucie, it’s proving to be an attraction in itself.

Entrea lala means “feel well” and that is pretty much Lucie’s take on life. “We should all feel well, yes?” declares Lucie.

Tuesdays are craft day at the Bottle Houses, and Lucie was sitting with a visitor from Sarnia, Ontario in a quiet part of the garden when I visited. Malissa Smit-Percival was creating her own Island souvenir—a message in a bottle. Lucie was teaching her how to paint Lupins around the small mason jar. Malissa was loving the experience. “This is so relaxing. We came to the Island to take in as much of the culture as we could. We love being part of a local experience. We’re touring the whole island, this part is awesome,” she said. “It’s like you’re bringing the artist and the culture to us, instead of us trying to find you,” husband Paul added, “It is so tranquil and peaceful here, it’s great.”

Lucie has the perfect personality for her new Artist in Residence title. She is welcoming, creative, bursting with ideas and generous with her time and vision. She wants to develop more experiences for visitors. “I would like people to feel the energy from the land and the gardens and then paint what they feel, for instance,” she said.

For this craft day however, developing your own bottle and creating a special message to take with you, was the experience. All supplies were there; ribbons, decorations, paper, paints and markers and Lucie. She’s a natural facilitator explaining “sometimes our mistakes make good things.”

Onto the tiny mason jar, Malissa was about to add leaves to her Lupins. Did you know that in nature, when you paint, there are always three colour tones? I’m not sure what message Malissa put inside her jar, written on a tiny scrap of paper and gently pushed into PEI red sand. But I know when she takes it out, she will remember her time with Lucie at the Bottle Houses.

The Bottle Houses are open daily until October and you can meet Lucie Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Jan CoxWay Up West
Jan Cox

My partner and I moved to the island from Ottawa in August 2003. We quickly became avid fans of "The Buzz". I would search out the monthly read at the liquor stores of West Prince! I retired in June 2015 and found myself one afternoon, on a weekday no less, outside The Buzz office in Charlottetown. I met Peter and the gang and after singing the praises of the publication, suggested they needed a voice from West of Summerside. Me and my big mouth - three years later I am still writing "Way Up West" every month and it has been a joy. It's a win win - I get to work with a wonderful group of people at The Buzz and I am thrilled to be meeting folks from up west and area.