Meet the Faces behind NFOTA: Gwynn Scheltema

Gwynn Scheltema

Gwynn Scheltema came to Canada in 1982, following the civil war in Zimbabwe, with her husband, 3 small children under 9, no jobs and $1000. Now she is retired, living peacefully in her lakeside home on Lake Seymour in Trent River. She spent 20 odd years as an accountant and then switched to writing and communications. Throughout that time, creating poetry, fiction and visual art has kept her sane and fulfilled.

Why do you believe in the Northumberland Festival of the Arts?

I believe in the power of creating to feed the spirit, no matter what daily life throws at you, and regardless of what level of skill you have or what you choose to create. I believe in co-operation and building each other up, living the concept of “it takes a village.” Northumberland Festival of the Arts believes in that too. There is so much talent and willingness in this county; these times require creativity to lift us up, and this festival is working to bring that all together, to discover and showcase what we have and involve as many people as we can.

Any passions and talents you want to share?

I am fortunate to have an equal measure of left and right-brain gifts. I can be practical, organized, and hard working. But I also love to write poetry, garden, dance and putter with paints. I love spending time with my 5 children and 9 grandchildren and friends. Oh, and I love cats.

What are your roots or groups – connections in the community?

Living on the lake gives me a wonderful opportunity to operate my business, offering writing retreats, coaching and editing services as well as workshops for writing organizations and conferences. I have been a co-host of “Word-on the Hills” radio program on Northumberland 89.7 FM for many years, as well as a founding member of the Spirit of the Hills Writers’ Group. I also belong to a couple of poetry groups and gardening groups. I have been involved in the previous two festivals as an organizer, an editor, and a performer.

What does “art” mean to you?

Art is a way to escape from the troubles of the world and find the beauty and peace in it instead. While I love the feeling of accomplishment when I produce a good poem, paint a pleasant picture or cook a fabulous meal, I value creativity for the process, the journey, the sense of fulfillment.

I love art for the sense of play and discovery. Anyone can play and discover, using any medium: cooking, landscaping, painting, dancing, singing, telling stories; it’s the attitude of letting go to see what happens that counts.

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