In 2000, following two years of volunteer work in South Africa, Fran Fearnley founded ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery on her five-acre property overlooking Rice Lake. The gallery specializes in the promotion and sale of stone sculpture from Zimbabwe.
Over the years it has evolved into a seasonal art destination which has attracted thousands of visitors from far and near. Fran travels to Zimbabwe to buy the work directly from the artists. She promotes the artists, sells their work and curates several public outdoor exhibitions annually.
The guiding principles of her business are to build mutually rewarding and respectful relationships with the 50 + artists she represents; to provide opportunities to promote cross-cultural understanding between Canada and Zimbabwe; to elevate, through educational initiatives, the profile of this international art movement which is still relatively new to Canada; and to raise money for educational projects supporting vulnerable children in Zimbabwe.
In 2007 Fran was awarded a Fellowship in Applied Education by the Board of Governors of Sir Sandford Fleming College, “for significant achievement and contribution to the community though practical application of knowledge and talents.” In 2010 the Peterborough chapter of Rotary Club awarded her a Paul Harris Fellowship. In 2013 she received a Leadership in Culture and the Arts Award from the County of Peterborough. In 2015 she joined the board of the Art Gallery of Peterborough.
A former educator, Fran served as an elected public school board trustee for six years and was, for a decade, the editor-in-chief of Today’s Parent magazine.