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Great Northern Peninsula would benefit from An Artisan’s Nook

This past summer I visited the Burin Peninsula, which is quickly developing its tourism product. Heritage Run is quickly becoming a destination for many travelers to our province. With a direct ferry connection to an international destination of St. Pierre-Miquelon, an economuseum, expansive trails, museums, heritage square, dinner theatres, beaches and more. One place that stood out as a model to truly replicate in our rural communities was the Artisan’s Nook in Lamaline.

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The importance of buying local and filling a gap that residents and tourists want – access to quality made locally produced products that are handmade. The concept is quite simple of using space in a community building to set-up a permanent craft shop that is professional and operated by one of the artists. A collective of artisans working together in a cooperative has created something beautiful for residents and tourists alike.

Four  talented locals came together, quilter Christina Lundrigan, artist Kathy Hillier, rug hooker Anne Kirby and knitter and crocheter Melaine Lambe operate this shop, but also work and interact with visitors as they are surrounded by their creations.

I have several pieces of Anne Kirby’s hooked rug ornaments hanging on my tree. I especially loved my line of salted cod.

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I also purchased mummer things, which is quintessentially a part of our Newfoundland and Labrador cultural activities, still celebrated today.

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The shop is an outlet of creativity, to purchase a variety of product, utilizes technology and illustrates the type of success people in small communities can have by working together to create the right atmosphere. Four artists now will spend less time marketing and more time creating. A permanent shop reduces setup time, provides continuity for repeat customers and multiple people allows for sharing the day required to be physically at the shop. Sales are not lost because of cooperation.

 

This is a more sophisticated model of a continuous craft fair that adds so much value to the artist, the community and the tourism product offering. I was impressed by use of the “square” (a credit card processing and business solution that connects to a mobile or iPad and allows for direct sales https://squareup.com/ca). I’ve seen more crafters using this technology at fairs, markets and at shops, which has led to increased sales.

I would encourage communities to open community hall or other spaces and artists to consider a model like the Artisan’s Nook. It can be a valuable addition for all involved. Drop by Lamaline, say hello and get some great pieces of art today!

Live Rural NL,

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA for St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows and Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development

 

Cod, Caplin & Quilts not the only art found in Raleigh – Taylor’s Crafts a Must Visit!

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On Thursday, I spent time visiting Residents of the historic Town of Raleigh on the Great Northern Peninsula. It is a picturesque community that highlights the rich fishing heritage with stages, fishing rooms and wharves. A focus the Raleigh Historical Society has been trying to highlight with a replica fishing village. There are still fishers actively earning and living, small business owners catering to the tourism industry (www.burntcape.com), hiking trails, icebergs, whales and the Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve with dozens of rare plants and is likely the province’s most significant botanical site. This waterfront community provides and authentic experience of what living rural is all about. I only had to walk from door to door to see gardens being tended, fish and homemade quilts drying in the open air.

However, there is much more art to be admired than the images you see of every day life surrounding Raleigh.

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A visit to Taylor’s Crafts is a must, with 4 generations of carves in their family. Master Carver Abiel Taylor, a third generation carver learned the art of carving from his grandfather during the 1950’s. At Taylor’s studio, you can meet the artist, learn more about the process and view a wide selection of carvings made from soapstone, serpentine, whalebone, and moose and caribou antler. These are lifetime pieces, that are uniquely one of a kind. You can reach him at (709) 452-3386 / 2131 if you see something of interest.

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Abiel’s work can be even found on the lawn of Government House, home of the Lief-tenant Government in St. John’s, NL as former LG John Crosbie was fascinated by a totem pole this master carver produced. His craft shop has incredible amounts of product and depicts of rich history of living from the land and sea. He has images of his grandfather presenting a replica he made of the Victory, which was Lord Nelson’s vessel to medical icon Dr. Charles Curtis (who the current hospital in St. Anthony is named). You will be inspired, intrigued and immersed in culture by taking the time to visit, an opportunity to experience the artist’s efforts and creative nature and maybe you too can own a little piece of rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

St. Anthony Come Home Year Showcased Strength of Volunteers, Community Groups

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St. Anthony hosted its second Come Home Year celebration since 2012. Thousands of people that year registered and flocked to our largest community on the Great Northern Peninsula to celebrate that special place, “Home”. I enjoyed participating in the celebration immensely and meeting residents from all over the province. My colleague Dale Kirby came with his family to participate and engage in a number of meetings with groups and organizations. It was a remarkable nine days of celebration, where I even camped out several nights, as weather was beautiful!

A small group of volunteers worked tirelessly over a couple of years to plan and organize such an event. Some billed the second Come Home Year as “too soon” but I never feel it is “too soon” to come home. However, given the short time lapse from the last celebration, looking back now, it may have been better to plan a shorter four day event from a Thursday to Sunday. I’ve seen weekend Come Home Celebrations happen like this on the South Coast and similarly the Annual Garden Parties of Conche and Goose Cove see residents return home each year to take in a weekend of planned festivities.

Little over a week before the official start, an email circulated that Come Home Year 2015 was cancelled. Several hundreds of people were registered including myself, vacation plans made, bands were booked and many commitments made. Certainly no easy decision from this six person team. However, this decision led to many community organizations and local businesses stepping up with sponsorship and a willingness to see Come Home Year 2015 take off and take off it did!

The opening ceremonies was attended by hundreds of registered guests and more than 1500 toutons were served at the Legion that day as guests registered. It was a pleasure to bring greetings and encourage people to enjoy their week of activities and commended the committee and community sponsors for ensuring that big things can happen in our small communities.

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Community organizations like the Legion sponsored dances during the opening weekend, which provided a change on venue and ensured meals were available for the large crowds throughout the week. A condensed showing of concerts seemed to work well under the revised plan and some activities were spearheaded by the others like Monday’s Carnival of Fun and Tuesday’s Grenfell Heritage Day Celebration & Teddy Bear Picnic.

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Monday’s Carnival of Fun by the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club was Minion themed (for those of you who didn’t know, I love the Minions). It brought lots of kids out for a fun filled day to support a local organization that offers programming, social and various activities for our youth!

Partnerships work and the St. Anthony Come Home Year, originally partnered with the Grenfell Foundation and LG Health to host the Annual Grenfell Heritage Celebration was promoted as well by the committee. I volunteered at the door for the Teddy Bear Picnic, which saw more than 300 children visit and participate in all the fun. It was quite the afternoon and the most successful to date. Additionally, at night a number of people flocked to the floor of the Polar Centre to help further raise dollars for essential medical equipment by purchase tickets, buying food and listening to local talent of headliner Skipper Hot’s Band. It was great to also hear others share their talents like Calvin Blake, Adam Randell, Brandon White and Jade Gibbons. There may have been others and if I missed them I apologize.

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The concerts throughout the week were well attended, my mom and friends were so very excited to hear Johnny Reid – it was a major highlight for her and the close to 1,000 others watching that night. I’ve only heard rave reviews!

I would have loved to watch the lantern release on fishing point. I saw some photos and video on Facebook that showed it was quite the magical experience. As well, the craft fair showcased so much amazing talent of local artist and craft producers! I got many Christmas presents and enjoyed engaging with the artists.

A few volunteers truly engaged community, business and organizations to make great things happen. St. Anthony had a great schedule of events for everyone to enjoy with a balance enabling sufficient time for seeing family, friends and visiting the attractions and loving home. I want to thank you all for your hard work and memories you have given me and the people who call St. Anthony home! I encourage you all to keep making big things happen in our small communities!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

The Story of the Golden Cod as Folk Artist Ben Ploughman Celebrates 20 Years

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Ben Ploughman of Port au Choix on the Great Northern is a self-taught folk artist that has made his mark on the industry. His unique pieces are made partly from recycled lobster trap laths that showcase individual hand-carved characters depicting an authentic story of the way of living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Much of his work focuses on the fishery, stemming from the collapse of the Atlantic cod fish with a moratorium in 1992. In fact, when I met Ben he was speaking with visitors about the five fish he had drying on a flake outside his studio.

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Ploughman’s work challenges the mind of locals, politicians and those that are not from here about big policy matters and critical events such as the impact of the cod fishery collapse, rural population decline and a shift towards an economy based on oil and what that could mean for the outports.

I’ve seen Ben’s work even depicted on the walls of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans office suite in Ottawa at the DFO building when the All-Party Committee on Northern Shrimp met with Minister Shea in May. He had told me those were some of his earlier works, when Provincial MHA and Tourism Minister Chuck Furey worked with Federal Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin to showcase artwork by artists from Newfoundland & Labrador. There are several works by other artists displayed on the walls of DFO, but it does my heart good to know there are multiple pieces from the Great Northern Peninsula. His work is also found at a number of local businesses such as the Anchor Cafe, Port au Choix and Lightkeeper’s Cafe, St. Anthony and an exhibit at Ocean View Motel, Rocky Harbour in the heart of Gros Morne National Park.

Ben took the time to show me around his studio, a very inspiring place to work – to create. This artist is pretty visionary, not only in his art but what he has tried to do to advance the tourism industry. He created a Museum of Whales and Things. After several years of operations, the museum faced a multitude of challenges to ensure the right balance of his time for creating art but also to give time to those inquiring about the displays. After touring the Whales and Things Museum space it is clear, Ben has a significant opportunity to create a gallery in this space – highlighting his work over the years. He has so many pieces that are not on public display and therefore do not have the opportunity to be sold. A gallery creates more opportunities for him and local business to attract more tour groups and visitors, adding to tourism and regional product development.

In his studio, Ben creates a space for people to become involved and understand his folk art and the process. He has an easel set-up where people can be hands on and create their own story like “Got Me Moose by'” or “Habs win Cup” and “Leafs try their hand at Golf” (as you likely guessed, I’m a Habs fan! [Third Generation]).

The famed CBC “Land and Sea” came to Ben’s Studio to hear his story of his art process using recycled lobster laths. This gave Ben a broader platform to tell his story and showcase his art. He’s also hosted an Exhibit at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. We talked about him finding a restaurant or gallery in the St. John’s marketplace, as well in Fort McMurray where those with an affinity to rural Newfoundland and Labrador congregate.

Additionally, Ben’s Studio is “HOME OF THE GOLDEN COD” – it’s story and the 125 lb piece with a $2.2 Million price tag is exclusively available for viewing in Port au Choix.

I encourage you to connect with Folk Artist Ben Ploughman, as he does commission pieces and ships his products anywhere around the world.

Ben’s Studio
Ben J. Ploughman
P.O. Box 264
Port Au Choix, NL
Canada  A0K 4C0

Phone/Fax: (709)861-3280
Web Site: http://www.bensstudio.ca
E-mail: benjploughman@hotmail.com

Ben Ploughman has many more ideas, such as a book explaining with images two decades of his folk art. I look forward to him pursuing them as he has exceptional potential to further elevate his artwork and tell the stories of Newfoundland and Labrador. His creative work of 20 years needs to be continuously told and a constant reminder of who we are and where we are going. Ben in his art has earned his place in the cultural history books of what is rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Craft Producers on Great Northern Peninsula Share Experiences

The Great Northern Peninsula has a number of craft producers that are hobbyists, part-time or engaged in the business earning a living full-time. There is significant opportunity to start and even grow markets in this sector. I recently attended a workshop at 50 Centuries Interpretation Centre, Bird Cove to learn more and provide my own feedback.

I was impressed by the array and diversity of craft producers at the session, ranging from two Youth Ventures participant presentations including Sami’s Cakes and Jasmine’s Nail Designs. Coordinator Sidney Coombs was on hand to talk about the businesses and willing to assist others throughout summer, providing support and advice.

The Western Newfoundlandd & Labrador Developer’s Coop has an exciting idea of an on-line marketplace and also does website development. This offering will help producers have access to a space for market and entry into the on-line or digital world. These are gaps that prevent many from reaching their full market or price potential.

Pricing was discussed by Craft Market Development specialist Brenda Stratton. Members of the CBDC Nortip team was also available as they hosted the session to provide business advice, counselling or financial support.

Woodworking & chain maille jewelry (Robin Gosse), photography (Frank Walters), painting (George Bussey), musical & literary art (Sabrina Whyatt), quilting (Ann Cunard), snowshoe making & traditional crafts (George Elliott) & Mummers (Sheila Short) were just a sampling of what was on display throughout the afternoon.

The session highlighted use of PowerPoint, Skype for virtual meeting, demonstrations and public discussion. There was a lot of engagement and interest in the room. More sessions should be held to encourage more local artists and craft producers to become involved, network and find ways to get their product into the hands of more and more customers.

It was exciting to see involvement from 9 to 90. For Mr. Elliott, he extended the offer to teach others his knowledge of making traditional snowshoes. I hope someone takes him up on that offer. I remember buying some of his pieces when I owned and operated Flower’s Island Museum back in 2002. I hang one of his killicks on my Christmas tree each year.

Talking with craft producers on the Great Northern Peninsula as they share their experiences is one of the unique and authentic encounters when visiting.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

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