Location: Newfoundland and Labrador

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

Jennifer Galliott Weaves a Way of Life in Newfoundland

I can’t paint every younger person with the same brush (although I would like to) but it gives me great comfort in knowing the future is in the hands of some of the younger people Gary and I have met along our journey. When we were in Newfoundland and Labrador it was recommended by two people that we go drop in on Jennifer Galliott. Jennifer is a tapestry artist, and she is also a potter and painter and gallery owner. She lives in Woody Point, right in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. At one time her grandfather owned a boat store for his fishing equipment which sat across the street from the water. Due to an unfortunate fire incident the boat stores across from his burnt to the ground. Eventually Jennifer’s grandfather was able to move his store across the street and it has sat on the waterfront ever since. This was significant not only for the convenience of accessing his boat and fishing equipment but also because nowadays it is the home of Galliott Studios and it’s quaint little cafe. Jennifer renovated the building that I imagine once smelled of ocean life, and turned it into a place where local art is on display for sale, including her own. It is also a place to meet, hang out and enjoy the breathtaking view from the deck that sits right on the water.

Inside Galliott Studios

Oceanside Deck

Jennifer struck me as a determined and ambitious young entrepreneurial artist. She graduated from art school in 2008 and she could have chose to go anywhere in the world to eke out a living for herself but she chose to come back to the small village of Woody Point, Newfoundland. Since then she has established a name for herself in the community and her studio and cafe has a reputation as the place to go and connect and seek out wonderful local art. She regularly brings in local Newfoundland and Labrador musicians for Sunday evening get togethers and has invited author readings in conjunction with the writers festival that comes to town once a year at the end of August.

We had a chance to spend some time with Jennifer and get to know her a bit. We all mutually agreed an interview was a great idea for the next day. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make it happen but Jennifer agreed to an e-mail interview along with some pictures of her work. Check out what she has to say about herself and her art.

AQ: How long have you been creating your tapestry? Jennifer: I’ve been weaving tapestries for 5 years now AQ: painting? Jennifer: on and off for years AQ: pottery? Jennifer: two years

AQ: Why did you choose these three mediums? Jennifer: I stumbled onto pottery when I found a kiln for sale for cheap online. After that my aunt gave me her kick wheel, and it kind of grew from there.

AQ: You took part of your art education in Alberta. Was it easy for you to decide to come back to Woody Point, Newfoundland and work as an artist? Jennifer: Yes. While I was away I made art largely about Newfoundland. The town of Woody Point is such a wonderful place people wise, as well as the natural beauty. Not only are both sides of my family from here, the town is also located right in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gros Morne National park, I don’t think it gets much better then this.

Jennifer Galliott

AQ: What challenges have you faced as far as establishing yourself in a small community like Woody Point? Jennifer:The town is very seasonal, also there isn’t a lot of money in small towns to be spent on a lot of art.

AQ: Are there some things you find easier being an artist here than in a bigger center? Jennifer: I’m surrounded by constant inspiration.

AQ: Please explain the process you go through when designing and crafting your tapestry? Jennifer: Before I weave a tapestry I first need to draw what is known as a cartoon. A cartoon is kind of like a blue print of what I will weave. It is a picture that is true to size and sits behind my loom as a guide to what I am weaving. Once this is done and sometimes coloured in, I then have to tie vertical strings known as warps, and make sure the tension is even throughout. Then the weaving starts.

AQ: What and/or who influences your designs? Jennifer: Mainly travel, being homesick, or home.

Tapestry in Progress

AQ: What advice would you give someone either thinking about pursuing an art career or someone who is fresh out of art school? Jennifer: Don’t give up. If there’s no work you just need to make some for yourself. Also learn how to apply for things and either enter yourself into nominations, or get a friend to do it for you. Also always ask for help you never know the huge amount of talent that could be around you.

AQ: What is the most gratifying aspect of being an artist in the mediums you have chosen? Jennifer: Being able to make an idea reality. I always try to push my limits and luckly don’t see the enormity of something until I’m in the thick of it. That being said I’m also very stubborn and no matter how long it takes I manage to finish what I’ve started. There’s nothing better then being able to look at something and think wow! I made that.

The Grumpy Goat Gallery – Art and Antics

The Grumpy Goat Gallery – Art and Antics

“…then wind your way along a cliff-side road that drops precipitously down to the Atlantic Ocean, take a few more hair pin turns, and then just as you are about to go flying off into oblivion turn left at the yellow vehicle into the driveway of the lime green house and park in front of the yellow piano!” Huh? Yesiree, I definitely embellished the directions from that email, but that (more or less) was one of our first introductions to Cara and Pam and a glimpse into their world of colour and whimsy. Truth be told, it is a scenic route to The Grumpy Goat Gallery that overlooks the vast Atlantic Ocean with breathtaking views that have caught not only whales and porpoises cruising by but also ice bergs at one time or another, all to be seen from their panoramic porch.

After our loud Arty Farty van pulled up in front of the yellow piano, we got out and strode up their front porch expecting to see them. They were nowhere to be seen. Hmmm, what’s this sign? “Hi! Please Honk the Horn For the Studio” So we did. Honk! Honk! And then like magic, there they appeared! I can’t help but feel that we were the lab rats of the day, observing us to see if we would go back to our vehicle to honk Arty’s horn. Preposterous you say? It is a fate befallen by more than one unsuspecting gallery visitor as you will read in Cara’s blog (play dark and scary music).

I will let you in on a little secret! Maybe this shouldn’t get out! Am I jeopardizing their business? Well, here it goes anyway! We found absolutely NO grumpiness at The Grumpy Goat Gallery in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador! Gasp! There, I said it! On the contrary, although we did meet their pygmy goats Rose and Sophia (and they aren’t grumpy either!), our meeting with affable artists Cara and Pam was filled with laughs, puns and hilarious stories of the lovely people that they encounter coming through the doors of their gallery. As a matter of fact, most of the gallery visitors are incited to smile, chuckle, or outright laugh as they notice the colourful and creative creations with often comical connotations displayed on the walls, floors, tables, or hanging from the ceiling. You don’t have to take my word for it though. Peruse the blog stories for The Grumpy Goat Gallery and you will see not only their wonderful mixed media creations, but also the creative comedic writing that is another forte complimenting the award winning mixed media work of Cara and Pam.

Cara is the self-taught artist that walks hand-in-hand with the child within her, looking at life with the curiousity, wonder and humour of a little girl and expressing it in her paintings. This gives her the gift of uninhibited expression. Pam is the self-taught carver and woodworker extraordinaire. We were stunned to learn that not only was she an incredible carver, but also built the woodworking shop, painting studio, goat barn and the house extension for the gallery all without a stick of training. The colourful fusion of the union between Cara’s historical and whimsical look at Newfoundland’s people, places and events and the three dimensional effect of Pam’s woodworking is nothing less than magical.

Click on the images below for a full view:

Join us with the voices of Cara and Pam as they tell us their story. Don’t be shy to leave a comment!

Jamie-Lee Cormier – Painting in Her Corner of the World

Jamie-Lee Cormier – Painting in Her Corner of the World

Corner Brook, Newfoundland is located on the west side of the island and is the first larger center we came upon after embarking off the ferry in Port Aux Basques. It is nestled among a rocky landscape right at the edge of the water. It has a breathtaking view, an extremely helpful tourist information center, all the amenities a person would need and a young painter by the name of Jamie-Lee Cormier.

Jamie-Lee in her gallery in downtown Corner Brook.

Jamie-Lee graduated with a degree in fine arts from Memorial University in Corner Brook in 2007. I remember when I was younger and fresh out of school my imagination about the future seemed boundless and fruitful and this was the impression I got upon meeting Jamie-Lee. She has a youthful exuberance that so many of us lose or ignore because we think it isn’t “appropriate” as we get older. It is refreshing to meet people like her.

Mixed Media Composition

After graduating from school there wasn’t a place for Jamie-Lee to show her work. The art school turned out an artist but left no place for her to go. She didn’t let that stop her. She went into business for herself, opened her own gallery in the downtown corridor by the name of JL Gallery, and invited other local artists as well. Jamie-Lee has always wanted to be an artist since she was a child and she has held a steadfast commitment to it ever since. Consequently, with a supportive family and lots of encouragement, she has worked hard and it has paid off. Her gallery has been contributing to Corner Brook’s economy for almost 5 years.

Jamie-Lee works primarily in mixed media but lately has been stretching her wings and working more on realistic paintings with oils. Although her art career is just getting started she has had commissions and requests from the people in her community for her mixed media art as well as her oil paintings. Most of her work incorporates some aspect of nature taking on a more abstract interpretation of it or sometimes a realistic impression.

Iceberg in St. Anthony, NL

Gary and I have interviewed many veteran artists and some emerging as well and found with life experience there is usually an evolution, and sometimes the art becomes a message or a story for a personal philosophy. After talking to Jamie-Lee, I didn’t get the impression that there is some kind of deeper meaning when she paints; she just loves to do it and that is all there needs to be. Her work is alive and full of energy, just like her, and as time goes by, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Jamie-Lee Cormier and her art.

Please join us with Jamie-Lee as she talks about her passion. Comments are always appreciated. Thanks.

Caroline Clarke’s Printmaking Magic

Caroline Clarke’s Printmaking Magic

One of the things I have noticed on our journey to the smaller and the smallest communities of Canada is that people have a devoted connection to the place where they grew up. This is probably why many of these places still exist today. Newfoundland and Labrador is a great example of one province, one community. Although the island is a giant rock, people’s roots grow deep and stretch far.

St. John’s Waltz

This feeling of commitment to community was one of the things I really noticed I had missed growing up in the west and even still today. When we met Caroline Clarke, this was one of the first points she brought up and why 12 years earlier, her and her husband decided to dig up their shallow roots in BC to become permanent residents of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Caroline is in love with the arts. She has had a lifelong bond to music and the visual arts since she was a girl. Her father played the accordion and her mother was a painter, and although the arts were important in their life, it wasn’t something they considered to be a good career choice for Caroline. As it turns out, she found she could have the best of both worlds. Caroline is a graphic designer by day and works on her visual art and music the rest of the time. This is her lifestyle.

Come I Will Sing You

Recently, Caroline married her two loves in a collaborative effort with her friends. She asked the people she shares music with what their favorite Newfoundland song is and she integrated those songs into a glorious print representing her community circle on their Tuesday night jam sessions. Her prints are about relationships and the people who helped her find her home and set deep roots. These folks are the inspiration that tunes in her creative channel.

Caroline practises the oldest form of printmaking. Pretty much any surface that you can carve an image or design into can be used to create a print. Even an orange could be used, although it wouldn’t go through the press very well! In this case, linoleum is her substrate and she is grateful to have an endless supply of lino from the local flooring store. The skill in printmaking comes from thinking backwards. The image you want to capture on paper is the part that is carved away. The negative space will actually become the positive space for the finished print. Preparing the surface for printing is in itself an art. I wondered why she wouldn’t just paint her images instead of going through what seems like a lot of trouble. Caroline said she used to paint but found that it never quenched her creativity like printmaking did. She loves to work with her hands and she was always attracted to posters, so printmaking was the better match.

LIno cut printmaking

I love Caroline’s style. She draws you a story of people and the simple joys in life that we never seem to get enough of. When I look at her printed artwork it makes me feel good. It is something you can hang on the wall and smile each time you look at it. The characters are boldly outlined which makes the story even more vivid, and their personalities come to life with the hand tinted colouring she does; personal to each one. I think the care and attention Caroline puts into her artwork and her music is a testament to her friendship and the community she holds close to her heart.

Click on the thumbnails below and be even more amazed!

King’s Point Pottery

King’s Point Pottery

Above: The iconic Humpback Whales of King’s Point in a piece from “Whales and Waves”, King’s Point Pottery’s signature and award winning line of blue and white functional pottery.

Walking into a gallery off the street and asking the proprietors for an interview is a little bit like making a cold call; no preparation and little time to think about all of the ramifications, if any. Maybe not so dramatic, but that is how we sprung our proposition upon the owners of King’s Point Pottery, Linda Yates and David Hayashida. Without much discussion though, they graciously accepted our offer and we were on for the interview the next day.

Linda and David in front of King’s Point Pottery

Prior to our “announcement” Linda and David were busy with customers, and so that gave us time to wander around this charming gallery to peruse the art work of the 150 different artists and artisans represented here. There are potters, such as Linda and David, wood turners and carvers, jewellery makers, painters, glass artisans, jams, teas and chocolate, fibre arts, stone works and metal works. Their gallery, which once served the community as Linda’s father’s gas station, is pleasing to the eye and has been transformed into a wonder of architectural and creative ingenuity.

Linda and David’s accomplishments with their artistic and functional pottery are not just observed by the walk-through patrons of their gallery, but have also been noticed many times by the various art councils and organizations that distinguish and bring to the spotlight exemplary pieces of work that need to be honoured and shared with the public. Linda and David’s clay does not fall flat in this area! The most recent of these notable distinctions has been a nomination for Canada’s highest honour, the Saidye Bronfman Award for craft by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is an award covering all the mediums, and over the last 30 years running has had only 6 winners in the ceramics realm. Quite a feat, and quite a testament to the beauty, creativity, heart and soul that Linda and David put into every one of their pieces.

The view across the street from the gallery

Linda and David’s passionate connection to the sea and it’s inhabitants are well represented in their work. For instance, Capelin, a small fish in the smelt family, is an essential part of the food chain for cod and other marine life. It has also been used for human consumption, pet food, bait and garden fertilizer. Over a ten year span Linda and David worked on a cast and carved mold of these little guys and now represent these important fish in their collection in the form of plates, dishes, platters and bowls. The next two photos below show some of their capelin mold creations:

Another tribute to the sea was borne in “Secret to the return of the cod”; an exhibit that Linda and David were invited to construct at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St. John’s, NL., with the image of a cod created within the 230 cups supported on a slut shelf (slut is a Newfoundland term for tin kettle). It was subsequently selected in 2009 to go overseas to represent Canada at a big international show in South Korea.

“Secret to the return of the cod”

Linda and David’s approach to promoting their pottery and the artisans within their gallery is one of a triple bottom line benefit. They actively promote the community of King’s Point and the local businesses and attractions within it. This promotion leads to a stronger tourist presence, and potentially new residents, which will help to sustain not only their gallery and the artisans that sell there, but also the continuance of the local businesses as well.

Linda at the wheel

David tending the salt/soda kiln

Although the other artists represented in Linda and David’s gallery were not there to promote their own work, as we strolled through looking at their creations we were very impressed as David was able to comment on each artist as if he knew them personally, the methods or techniques of their work, and even the historical significance behind a piece. It made a lasting impression on us knowing that King’s Point Pottery’s best interests are also reflected in the extra energy they put in to promote those other artists and the relationships they forge with them.

Click on the thumbnails below for a larger image of Linda and David’s work:

Please join us below with David Hayashida of King’s Point Pottery. Comments are welcome.