Artists in Residence – Our One-Year Creative Sabbatical

Hey everyone! Darwin and I are really excited to announce that, starting July 1, we are going to be Artists in Residence at Aurum Lodge! This is the same eco-lodge which hosts many of our photography workshops and is located within one of our favourite landscapes on planet Earth...the Canadian Rockies! This Artists in Residence program is part of a larger commitment to creativity for oopoomoo, and we want you to share in the journey – please join us! Read on to learn more about why we’re making this move and how we hope to share our experience with you.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Aurum Lodge

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Aurum Lodge

A Passion for Photography

As many of you know, last June Alberta (the province in which we live) was struck by some of the worst flooding in Canadian history. After days of pounding rain, many towns situated near mountain-fed rivers and creeks were inundated by surging, raging waters. The economic heart of the city of Calgary was shocked into abandoned stillness by the frothy anger of a changeling river; it was surreal to watch the incoming footage as a normally placid, rippling blue Bow River turned into an insatiable, banks-crumbling maw in just a few bare hours. Costly clean up is ongoing.

©Darwin Wiggett - The flooding Bow River

©Darwin Wiggett – The flooding Bow River

We weren’t directly affected by flooding in our neck of the woods but, for many Albertans, the flood devastation served a visceral reminder of the power of nature and spurred a dialogue about how climate change impacts our communities and our future. It also raised the issue of whether the fast pace of resource extraction pursued by Alberta needed to be re-examined – and interestingly many people we spoke to mentioned an interest in slowing the pace of their own lives and living a more fulfilled, healthy, creative life.

These conversations really resonated with us. We started oopoomoo to encourage photographers to invest in their artistic development within the larger context of a healthy planet and vibrant communities. We’ve frequently written about the need to balance work and life and the importance in investing in your creativity in ways that minimize the impact of the pursuit of photography on the earth’s resources. The flood of 2013 sparked awareness in our community about the hidden costs of our fast-paced, consumptive lifestyle… and reminded us personally that we hadn’t been paying as much attention to our own creative goals as we should.

We decided it was time for that to change. For one year, we would rent our house in Cochrane and would run oopoomoo from our field base at incredible Aurum Lodge, on creative sabbatical as Artists in Residence free to explore our own creative goals but with a keen interest in sharing our journey and, as far as possible, opportunities for artistic growth with oopoomoo fans and readers.

©Darwin Wiggett - Hiking buddies with Samantha on Vision Quest above Abraham Lake.

©Darwin Wiggett – Hiking buddies with Samantha on Vision Quest above Abraham Lake.

Journey With Us

We appreciate that not everyone can take a year off to pursue their artistic goals. But you can carve out one more hour a week for your own creative development. And you owe it to yourself. Get up an hour early. Skip that hour of TV. Turn your lunch break into an artistic fiesta. It’s really about taking a good, honest look at the priorities in life and latching on to what is important to you. Family, friends…your passions…why should they take a back seat? You’ll always remember those times when you were happy and present. You won’t remember, and won’t be remembered for, those sacrificial extra hours at your job.

©Darwin Wiggett - Many of us want more time with family, friends, outdoors, and our art.

©Darwin Wiggett – Many of us want more time with family, friends, outdoors, and our art.

We want you to whisper your secret creative dreams in our ear. How are you hoping to achieve them? What can you do right now to take a step toward those dreams?

We’re going to share our journey with you, and we encourage you to pick up your camera and start your own exploration this summer. There’s plenty of ways to be involved, and we’d love to hear from you! Join us in our Creative Assignments Project, and share your inspiring work and photographic inspirations in the oopoomoo community on Facebook. And of course, if you ever find yourself in our neck of the woods consider staying awhile to learn with us in this, one of the most stunning natural places on Earth. We look forward to embarking on this creative journey together!

Having fun is what life is all about!

Having fun is what life is all about!

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!


  1. Allison
    May 9, 2014

    I hope you guys have an “artsy fartsy” kinda year!

  2. Keltie & Stan Masters
    May 9, 2014

    “Hear, hear – we applaude you!” Life should be about having fun & finding your passion! We r currently on r way to “scout out” r possible retirement area – “must have lots of photography potential!” The next chapter has begun! We look foward to hearing about ur new journey!

  3. John
    May 9, 2014

    Awesome, Darwin and Samantha. What a great initiative, and what a great place to go for such a positive and creative undertaking. All the best for a great year ahead … and many more to follow afterward.

  4. Jane Chesebrough
    May 9, 2014

    Good for you! A fantastic opportunity.

  5. Chris Bone
    May 11, 2014

    A great idea and a wonderful opportunity; your favourite place will be your new back yard. Good luck and best wishes.

  6. Darwin Wiggett
    May 13, 2014

    thanks everyone for the best wishes!

  7. Richard Wong
    June 3, 2014

    Good luck Darwin & Samantha. Sounds like a great opportunity to find new direction in life.


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