Every month, founder and owner of Bird On A Wire Creations, Kate Nagel, visits a local artist in their studio to learn all about their journey as crafters, creators, and entrepreneurs. This month we met with June Hunter. June Hunter will be our featured artist at Bean Around the World on Main and 10th for August to October. Stop in and see her fantastic crow portraits while grabbing a cup of coffee.

Learning to Look Up

As a society, we often spend our time with our heads down, so burdened by our duties and responsibilities that we forget to look up. There is gold in looking up. You never know what you might see. What might inspire you, or how your life may take a different direction if you only shifted your perspective? Just like we did in our studio visit with June Hunter. We discovered so much gold, surprises, and “Really? You did that?” moments. Enjoy your read about this amazing artist and how a shift in her perspective led to art that is enjoyed by bird lovers around the world. 

Meet Vancouver Crow Photographer June Hunter

June Hunter grew up in an incredibly urban city in Newcastle upon Tyne commonly known as Newcastle, a city in Tyne and Wear, North East England. Her parents were caretakers of a local bank, and their flat was right underneath the Tyne bridge. The Tyne bridge is famously known for being on the Newcastle Brown Ale labels. Their home was near the docks and the only birds that lived around there were pigeons and gulls. Upon graduating from Bangor University in North Wales, June decided to take on the world and moved to Canada at the age of 22. Now, you may not know June as well as we have gotten to know her, but June’s approach to life is go big or go home. So with this in mind, June moved to a tiny little Town in BC called Likely. As June puts it, the best way to find this out of the way place is “turn right at 150 Mile House and keep going, don’t take the turn to Horsefly but keep going straight to Likely.” Miles away from any neighbour and equipped with a book called Illustrated House Building - the definitive layman’s guide, she built her own home*. She confesses that she had no idea what a stud was, how to frame or even what rafters were, and to top it all off, she had no power tools. Everything was accomplished with hand tools.
*As a side note June that still has the book and has been saving it for her children, if they ever wish to build their own home.

June shares, “I’ve always been the kind of person who will approach life as though all things are possible. I take on new boundaries and challenges with the intention that I can accomplish it. My philosophy is, if I could master knitting Fair Isle socks, how difficult could it be to build a cabin? It wasn’t not more difficult; it was just different” [she says with a giggle.] June lived in Likely for a few years and then moved to Nelson, BC. Her intention was to continue her fine wood working education and signed up for a course, but as luck would have it the instructor became ill and the course was cancelled. Not wanting to wait a year for the course to be offered again, June decided to move to Vancouver. Fate was on her side, as she met her husband Philip shortly after.

Gathering Creative Skills in Vancouver

The years in between brought many adventures as June and Philip married and raised two children, Lily and Ian. June took a two-year media design program at Cap College that included graphic design and photography. Then, in the late 80’s took Art & Design classes at Emily Carr University of Art & Design. She says, “It’s like I was gathering skills as I wandered around in a disorganized way leading me to what I do today.” In 1997, her mother passed away unexpectedly. June remembers this being the moment that photography took hold and became her mode of expression and a way to process life’s challenges. After her Mom passed, June reached for her camera and exercised her shock through her photography. Two years later June’s Father was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The months leading up to his passing, June flew to the U.K. to look after him. Once again June turned to her camera for solace. “The stress of all that was happening,” June shared, “had a profound effect on my brain, and I began to view the world differently. Small things, like close ups of flowers, and rusting barbed wire on a fence, had far greater meaning to me now.” She took pictures of it all.

Crow Photography in the Vancouver Area

For five years June took photos of flowers, nature, and rust. She was fascinated by rust. One day in 2005, as she was in the garden taking photos, she heard a strange noise above her. She looked up to see crows flying by. “I’m sure my body made some audible creaking noise, as I changed positions, because I had been looking down for so many years. I looked up and thought, oh look, there is sky. I haven’t looked down since.” “Crows - birds in general - but crows in particular seem to be a key into the world of nature because they are so obvious, so loud, and in your face. Once you start watching them, they are so endlessly fascinating and funny that they become a “gateway drug” to all the other amazing birds in the city. In a way they are like ambassadors for the birds.”

Displaying Photography at Vancouver Craft Markets

 Since then, June began looking up more often. She fell in love with crows, birds, and the skies above. After many years of photography, she decided to sell her work in Vancouver. Printing her images on wooden blocks, plexiglass and other mediums, she booked her first market. In 2005, June started to showcase her work at the craft market on Granville Island. “I loved it! It was great for getting on site and immediate market research. I was able to hear what customers really liked and what they were less fond of.” She met many customers from all over the world, some of whom are now long time collectors of her art. Over the years she has been able to have amazing conversations about crows with her followers and fans.   

With our tea and biscuits enjoyed June concludes, “I feel that at all the really difficult times in my life, it has been art that has gotten me through it. Whether it was my Mom and then my Dad passing or the challenges of raising children, I could pick up my camera and turn to creativity to see me through. I could go outside and look at leaves or follow some crows around for 15 minutes, and that got me through.” June feels, "We can find our sanctuary in the creative expression. And life can be found again, in all the small moments of everyday living… all you have to do is just look up

Get More June Hunter and Her Crow Photography

For more June Hunter, her wonderful blog can be found here where you can enjoy her very witty and laugh out loud take on life. Visit us in-store at Bird on a Wire Creations to see our wonderful selection of June Hunter's photography, pins, greeting cards, and more! For more creative content, connect with us on Facebook!

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