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By Vanessa Tam

To this day, the annual Richmond Night Market continues to maintain its reputation as one of the best spots in the city to both fill your belly with Asian style street food and your pockets with fun little tchotchkes. From Pokemon themed hair clips and dim sum to false eyelashes and bubble tea, the Richmond Night Market has it all!

Richmond Night Market

This year, we went to track down some of the most interesting foods to taste at the Richmond Night Market whilst fidget spinning our anxieties away.

Spicy BBQ Squid Legs

Richmond Night Market

Trust you gut before going in on these spicy squid legs. With a texture that’s similar to BBQ calamari, these squid legs are brushed with a spicy chilli paste that starts as a slow burn and continues to build long after the dish is finished.

Cost: $10

Taste: 5/5

Unagi Tamayaki

Richmond Night Market

Best compared to a savoury omelette filled with little chunks of grilled eel, Tamayakis are kind of like pizza in that you can put almost anything on them and it’ll probably taste great. Topped with a savoury sauce, Japanese mayo, seaweed flakes, crispy rice and masago fish eggs, this dish was a pretty tasty little bite.

Cost: $7

Taste: 3/5

Sakura Raindrop Cake

Richmond Night Market

Raindrop cakes look like one of those perfectly round drops of water that you see in nature shows. Interestingly enough, they’re actually made from agar gelatine that’s derived from algae which makes this fancy dessert veggie friendly! Embedded with an edible cherry blossom and dressed with a floral flavoured syrup, this gorgeous treat will probably be one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever eaten.

Cost: $10

Taste: 4/5

Red Bean Taiyaki with Ice Cream

Richmond Night Market

With a texture that’s similar to that of a waffle moulded into the shape of a fish, taiyaki are usually found being sold on the streets of Japan as sweet treat. Stuffed with red bean paste and topped with ice cream, this version of the popular street food merges value, presentation and taste together in perfect harmony.

Cost: $5

Taste: 5/5

The Richmond Night Market is located next to the River Rock Casino at 8351 River Road in Richmond and is open from 7pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday, 7pm to 11pm on Sundays and holidays, from now till October 9th.

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By Vanessa Tam

Connecting with people through art is what local artist Charlotte Spafford does. Whether it’s through her own abstract mixed-media practice or her work as an art therapist, Spafford uses her creativity to reveal who we are and what we value as people.

Her latest collection of work titled Precious Things – Collected and Kept, explores the relationship between people and their belongings. Putting a call out for submissions, Spafford received prized belongings from people across Vancouver with a short letter describing why the object is precious to them. Spafford then re-created each piece into an “art object” in her own style using watercolours, ink, thread, pens, pencils, pastel and different weights of paper.

Below we got a chance to chat with Spafford about everything from the inspiration behind her new show to her own experience with art therapy.

Charlotte Spafford

What inspired you to create a series of paintings under the Precious Things theme?

I’ve been working with the Precious Things theme for a little while in a different context – whenever I go on a hike or into nature, I collect natural things I see as precious (interesting rocks, sticks, and leaves for example) and then re-create them in my own style. Working with natural things is great, but I wanted challenge myself to re-create and abstract objects that have rich meaning in people’s lives – things I might not normally select.

In January, I received a grant from the Vancouver Foundation DTES Small Arts Grants and decided to use it as a jumping off point for this project. I’ve always been interested in what we value and how we create meaning in our lives. I work part-time in long term care, so I see the impermanence of life on a daily basis. When someone passes away, their precious things are often the only physical record we have of who they were and what they loved. Our precious objects are the types of things that may be shown in museums one day, to tell future generations about who we were. I find it fascinating to think about what those things might be.

Tell us more about your process behind “capturing the spirit” of the objects that you’ve collected for this Precious Things show

The first thing I do when someone sends me an object is read the person’s description of why it is precious to them. It gives me a deeper understanding of the object, and although it doesn’t necessarily change how I see the object, it’s an important part of my process.

Then I look at the photograph of the object. I study it carefully and sketch it out from a few different angles in my sketchbook examining its form, colour, lines, interesting features, etcetera. This helps me decide which medium or media would best represent it – ink, pencil, paint, glitter, string, pastel, or something else entirely – and also, how abstract I want to make it. Sometimes I immediately know how I want to re-create it, and sometimes it takes a little more experimentation to figure out. It is part observation, part intuition.

Charlotte Spafford

Out of all the objects that you’ve created for Precious Things, do you have a favourite?

There were so many objects with beautiful stories, but I definitely have a favourite. The objects were from a woman in her nineties, and I had the chance to visit her, see them in person and hear her stories. One of the objects was an old painting she’s had since her son was a child and the other was an armoire that belonged to her mother. I heard stories that were so close to her heart that she doesn’t normally have the chance to share. There is something special about being in a room with someone and experiencing that kind of connection.

Tell us about your work as an art therapist

I work with seniors at a couple of long term care homes, both as an art therapist and a program coordinator. The residents I work with have a variety of physical and mental health challenges, so every day is different but I absolutely love it. I get to witness the creative processes of a wide group of people who have lived fascinating lives, and get to know them as individuals and creative beings. It is a great complement to my art practice – I always come away with new ideas and new ways of thinking about things.

Charlotte Spafford

Has art therapy ever helped you personally?

Yes, it has. I went through some mental health issues as a teenager in addition to generally feeling uninspired by what felt possible for my life and my future (as many teens feel I think). A counsellor I was seeing at the time had some art therapy training and encouraged me to work through some of my thoughts and fears using art. I remember having a breakthrough moment – realizing that I could use art as a way of creating new realities for myself. I still use art as a means of inquiry and self-reflection, I always feel like I learn more about myself every time I create.

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By Vanessa Tam

Like most great things in life, Music Waste was created out of necessity.

A necessity for accessible places where anyone could go regardless of who they are or where they’re from, to both discover and support Vancouver’s local community of independent artists and musicians. Originally founded in the 1994 as a counter-culture music festival, Music Waste continues on as a completely volunteer-run organization that annually showcases over 70 local bands, artists and comedians across a variety of venues.

With the first day of Music Waste 2017 set for June 1st at Fortune Sound Club, we had the chance to catch up with Eleanor Wearing, director of the organizing team, about what festival-goers can expect this year.

Music Waste

Tell us about your first experience at Music Waste

My first experience with Music Waste was in 2013, which was the first summer I spent in Vancouver after moving here for school in 2011. Before that I had only attended larger, one-venue music festivals, and the idea of a festival being at a bunch of different venues across a city was really intriguing to me.

I attended a show at the Electric Owl and there were two stages – one upstairs and one downstairs. I didn’t know any of the bands playing at that point because I was just beginning to discover the local music scene, but I remember thinking that it was so cool to see a city put on so many shows to support local talent.

Last year you guys had a “strange magic” theme for the Art Waste, did you guys decide to do a theme for this year as well?

Although we don’t really have a formal theme that applies to all areas of the festival, this year we decided to work with dice and games imagery, and the slogan “All Bets Are Off.” You can see this imagery in the incredible logo that local artist Ali Bruce designed for us, as well as in the band and Comedy Waste photos that local photographer Lauren Ray took for us.

The “All Bets Are Off” slogan and games imagery is open to interpretation, but the way I see it is that the festival is so hectic and jam-packed full of different things to do that it’s difficult to predict what your weekend will be like. It’s better to get rid of your expectations and plans and just take a risk on going to see a brand new band or a venue you’ve never been to before. Maybe meet some new people and celebrate the local art and music community.

Music Waste

Accessibility has always been a cornerstone of Music Waste from it’s inception. Tell us about how the festival has been able to continue to remain accessible for people both as attendees and as participating musicians over the years despite all of the major changes in standard of living costs, venue costs, culture and politics.

The main way Music Waste strives to be accessible is financially. While we did raise the individual show price this year from $5 to $7, the festival passes are still only $15 which is still super cheap considering the number of music, comedy and art shows you can get into with the pass!

It’s also very cheap considering how much more expensive Vancouver now than it was even five years ago. With respect to bands, we try to pay everyone who plays the festival as much as we possibly can. That’s what we spend the most money on as the entire festival is volunteer run and organized.

Beyond finances, this year the group also made some changes to the way we selected bands. For the first time ever we had a committee of around 20 folks listening independently to submissions as we received them and casting votes. After submissions closed and all votes had been cast, the Music Waste organizing team met and made the final lineup decision based off votes and group discussion.

We tried to take the lineup decisions a little more seriously than in past years to try to include folks who may not have had a chance to play in previous years. One other thing the organizing team did this year was participate in Good Night Out Training and Narcan Training. We believe that this is an important step in working to make the festival more safe and inclusive for everyone who’s attending.

While Music Waste strives in some ways to be accessible, I think it’s important to note that there is always more we can be doing and that we welcome feedback from folks in our community about what they think is important to focus on.

Music Waste

In your opinion, what are some stand out aspects of the first day of Music Waste that you think people can really look forward to?

The Fortune show is going to be really great because you will get to see so many different things at once; it’s like a mini version of the four day festival that happens all in one night! You will have bands on the main stage and the art room stage, electronic artists in the Livestock Room, an Art Waste installation in the art room and a karaoke room as well.

I’m personally most excited to see Missy D perform on the main stage at the end of the night. Hip Hop and Rap are two genres Music Waste has not had a lot of in past years, so I’m really happy Missy D is on the lineup this year!

Anything else you’d like to mention about the future of Music Waste?

We’re stoked that Music Waste has persevered and stuck around for as long as it has! As long as folks continue to support the festival, bands, artists, comedians, organizers and volunteers who make Music Waste happen, I believe that it will continue to grow and shift to represent a big part of Vancouver’s local arts community.

Photos by: Lauren Ray


Music Waste 2017 kicks off at Fortune Sound Club on June 1st. Tickets are still available for $7 at the door or $15 in advance for all four days. Check out the Facebook event page for more information.