Past Members


A founding member of the Octarine Artists, Deb participated in four exhibitions from 2014 through 2017.

A practicing artist in Guelph for over 30 years, Deborah Dryden graduated from the University of Guelph with a B. A. in Fine Art.  Next, building on her B. Ed. from Dalhousie University, Deborah became Director/Curator of the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Art where she implemented art classes for children taught by local artists. Returning to Guelph, Deborah was a full time educator and also offered adult art workshops at a variety of conferences and universities.  Deborah herself remained a lifelong student, continuously enhancing her techniques through courses at Toronto School of Art, Haliburton School of Fine Art, International Encaustic Conferences and Cullowhee Mountain Arts. Deborah is a member of the Whitestone Gallery in Guelph and the Harris Collection at the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Statement As an artist and art teacher, creativity has always been at the centre of my life. I have explored a wide variety of art forms (printmaking, clay, watercolour, acrylic, glass mosaic) in order to translate an idea or image into a successful visual statement.  Currently I have chosen the medium of encaustic – painting with pigmented melted bees’ wax.  Its translucency, texture and rich colour allow for endless possibilities. In my artwork I explore the layers, connections and textures in my life and in the world I see.


Mary Karavos took part in the Octarine shows of 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Mary’s formal art training took place at the Ontario College of Art. Following a juried application process in her final year, Mary was accepted to study fine art in Florence, Italy. Florence became home for many years; during her time in Florence surrounded by the history, the architecture and the people Mary found herself drawn to paper fiber as a medium for her art.

Collections of her art have been seen in solo, group and juried exhibitions in Bologna, Italy, New York City, Paris and in various galleries and juried exhibitions across Ontario and Quebec.

In June 2014 following a jurying process of both her figurative and abstract work the Arts-Sciences-Lettres Academy of Paris awarded Mary the Bronze Medal. (The Arts- Sciences – Lettres Academy was founded in 1915)

In December 2014 Maryʼs art received “prix du Jury” at the SNBA (Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts} International exhibition at the Carrousel de Louvre in Paris, France. The SNBA is one of Paris’s oldest and most prestigious shows founded 153 years ago.

Vibrant color and rich texture have become the signature of Mary’s work. After more than twenty years she is still exploring her love for paper and the creative process involved in an original work of art.


Also a founding member of the group, Helen took part in the first two Octarine shows in 2014 and 2015.

Helen Hughes, a textile artist living in Guelph, studied Fine Art at the University of Guelph, graduating in 1978 with a B.A. in Fine Art and Music. Studies continued through a summer semester in New York with workshops and hands-on experience with sculpture and large public installations of art. Painting, printmaking and sculpture have shaped her artistic path, but textiles have become her defining medium for over 35 years. Helen has been exhibiting her work regularly in galleries and museums, both locally and nationally since 1978 in both invitational and juried shows. She furthers her artistic expansion through workshops with many internationally acclaimed textile artists from Canada, Europe, United States, England, South Africa, Japan and Scandinavia. Her work is in private collections around the world and in public buildings in Ontario.

Helen presents lectures on Contemporary Fibre Art, and workshops to guilds, groups, schools and through the Art Workshops in Elora. She operates her business ‘Silver Needle Designs’ from her home studio and produces original textile compositions using primarily silk and her hand–dyed textiles of linen, cotton and wool. Her art has been featured in Canadian and international publications. Helen is a member of the Guelph Studio Tour and Connections Fibre Artists, an international group. She is also an active volunteer with the Huntington Society of Canada, which is a major part of the fabric of her life.

Statement: Textiles, as an artistic medium, have allowed me to give the best expression of my personal vision. Inspiration and motivation come from a vast array of sources. Pushing new techniques and exploring surface design help me translate my view of the world into cloth. A continued fascination with colour and pattern informs my work, and my goal is to nourish spirit, eye and mind in equal measure. Passion drives me forward as I celebrate a life in textiles. 


Jean Loney (died 2021) was a founding member of the Octarines and took part in the shows of 2014 to 2022.  She was born in London, England, raised in Toronto and then settled in Fergus, Ontario with her husband to raise their two daughters. Jean studied art at high school, however, while attending the University of Toronto she focused her studies on Sociology and English, and later pursued a career in elementary education. During her teaching years, Jean concentrated her artistic talents on creating a perennial garden for her century home. Digging in the dirt turned up shards of pottery, iron spikes, medicine bottles, and an old porcelain doll’s face. These buried bits of history led to a fascination with underground strata, shown in Jean’s sea- and earth-scapes.

Jean studied watercolour techniques with Nan Hogg in Guelph and Jack Reid at the Haliburton School of the Arts. After her retirement from teaching, Jean changed her artistic focus after taking a short course in mosaics with Guelph artist Deb Dryden. For a former primary teacher, “making mosaics is like cutting and pasting for grown-ups! It’s the colour, texture and sparkle of the glass that calls to me”. Although glass is not a fluid medium, Jean shapes it to represent air and water, making something effortless and flowing out of this concrete material. Jean has taken classes from North American masters of modern mosaic technique, such as Lynne Chinn, Yulia Hanansen, and Sophie Drouin. Currently, she teaches mosaics at the Maplestone Gallery in Creemore, Ontario. Jean’s work is in private collections in Canada, the West Indies, Australia, and Great Britain. She is a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists.

Artist’s Statement:  Intangible elements from my life are expressed in my mosaics. My work, like many contemporary mosaics, incorporates a variety of materials other than glass, including stone, tile, pottery shards, beads, and found objects. The choice of material is suggested by the image and the image is then shaped by my vision of its essence. My current series of bird studies provides an entry to the magic of a natural world which for me is best expressed in glass mosaics.




Founding member Leslie Miles took part in the Octarine shows of 2014 through 2019, and returns as a guest artist in 2023.


Founding member Susan Strachan Johnson took part in the 2014  and 2016 through 2019 exhibitions.

Susan studied Philosophy and History of Art at Leeds University (BA Hons), and Design and Craft with the City & Guilds Institute of London (Level 3 Diploma).  Having been a painter all her life, she has also worked in fibre art since 2003. Among many other juried shows, she has shown by invitation at the 2003 Biennale in Florence, Threadworks 2004 and 2007, and the Grand National Quilt Show in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2013. Awards include Best in Show in Threadworks 2004, the Fibre Art award at Insights (2006), and the Rebecca Burghardt Emerging Artist Award at Touched by Fire (2008).

Susan teaches workshops in fibre art techniques throughout Southern Ontario, and also offers private instruction in her studio, though her popular “Play for a Day” getaways. In addition to working in fibre, Susan accepts mural and church commissions, and paints portraits in watercolour and other media from photographs.

Statement: My work is inspired by nature and the landscape around my home: I am an avid environmentalist. I work with distressed fibres, paper-and-textile combinations, and found objects; I also paint and dye my own materials. Recently my work has been increasingly realistic, and I have focused more on line and colour than stitch. Increasingly I am happy to just observe things; I often use shadows of myself to reinforce my role as a watcher, seeking not only to portray my surroundings, but also to comment upon them.

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Heather Wood was a member of the Octarines from 2019 to 2021 and took part in the Renewal exhibition, which was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Heather uses vitreous glass enamels, both fusible and recycled glasses, and a kiln to create both functional and non-functional work in her studio, The Bridge Studio, located close to river and forest in scenic Elora, Ontario.

Heather Wood graduated with distinction with an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a Studio Specialization in Sculpture from the University of Waterloo.  Heather works in her studio using a kiln to alter, fuse and slump glass.  Using glass enamels she also paints and etches these kiln-fired flat glasses to create two and three-dimensional works which are original drawings on glass.

Artist’s Statement:  Much of Heather’s work revolves around the use of plant, tree and animal imagery.  Her exploration of vegetation and animal life as cultural symbols, references man’s need for contact with the natural world.  Using images representing the environment both literally and metaphorically, Heather’s work explores the connection between our spiritual and physical worlds and emphasizes our need for nature.