When I was young, my family went away in the summers to a place in Summerville on the Minas Basin that we called ‘the farm’. It was comprised of dozens of acres of fields surrounded by mixed forest and looked over the Avon river towards Hantsport.
I often found myself alone exploring the woods and fields, and along the muddy Minas basin shoreline with its shifting tides and changing light. The landscape became a kind of companion to me, and set up a pattern for my adult life- finding solace in the company of nature.
My parents sold the farm when I was in my late teens. I had hardly any photographs of it, I hadn’t thought to record it and still feel the loss.
Everywhere I have lived since then, I have documented places with photographs.
However, as much as photographs can capture the structure and the details of a place, they always lack some essential quality. What I experience about them is alive and full of feeling- while my photographs are static, rigid, and somehow detached. I have also made sketches in watercolour and pencil, but they also didn’t quite capture the feeling I was after.
I wanted to find a way to document the places in a more meaningful way. To have a solid record that felt how I experienced it. Thus began my ongoing occupation of trying to capture a place through painting it. Not just how it looks, but how it feels to be there.
The two series of works I have made for this show attempt to do this.
The first (places I miss) is paintings made of places when I am away from them- the compulsion to paint them coming from a longing to be there, and a need to recreate them for myself. They are of the places I missed when I moved to Toronto in September 2022, views from the cottage I rent with my daughter every summer in Kingsport, the beaches at Conrad’s and Kejimakujik seaside adjunct , the view from my friend’s place in Cape Breton, a family cottage in Goderich Ontario, Georgian Bay in the summer.
The second body of work (Newfoundland) were painted when I was there for a residency with the Pouch Cove Foundation in September 2023. In these works, I was able to experience the landscape, and then go directly to my studio and paint it. Rather than a longing to be there, the compulsion was to hold onto the experience of place immediately, while its impression was still fresh in my mind. These paintings are of places near the studio, within walking distance. The process of seeing it and then painting it almost always in the same day.