the story of the ou

Ou like 'Ooo, nice' 

We are an artist-run contemporary art gallery and artist residency that hosts monthly exhibitions, pop-ups and events. Located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley halfway between Victoria & Nanaimo, we’re humbled and thankful to acknowledge that we live on the unceded Coast Salish territory of the Tsawout First Nation. We hope to share our journey with you by making an inclusive community space where together we can create and experience the wonderful world of art. 

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a little history

Built in the 1930's by Aubrey Ash, who lived in a cabin across the creek & would use a makeshift gondola to ferry across,  'Ash Boatworks' ran until the late 80's (as far as our amateur sleuthing goes). His daughter then ran 'Miller Catering' from the kitchen, before it changed hands to become the home & workshop of Master Carpenter, Cameron Forbes. It's amazing to be able to add to this history of creative entrepreneurs, and we're thankful that the deep fir floors can tell you a part of this story through their layers of colourful resin. We're still collecting stories as they filter in from the neighbourhood; some remember "getting their rocks tumbled" here as a child, and others speak of the "kind & generous nature" of Ash's daughter, Donna. One day we hope that our neighbours will be able to tell soft stories through smiles about us too.


who runs this place?


navonod rose 

Navonod is Donovan spelled backwards. He spends most of his time working on oil paintings & writing travel reviews. He is currently scheming on the design of a new deck in the garden over a pot of hot coffee. Find more of his art & words at


Barclay martinique

Barclay tried her hand at NSCAD and ended up with an MA in Media & International Development. Her passion for travel, art & community engagement has taken her all over the world as a student, artist & volunteer. Besides running The Ou with Donovan, she is also a freelance photographer for The Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council. Read about her past projects at

Tintype taken by Tekoa Predika


find us just outside of downtown duncan | 3091 Agira Road


Thank you to our community & local partners