The creative community of Conche is where I purchased this tapestry of embroidered bread and caplin. It sits in the public gallery at the Straits-White Bay North Constituency Office at 279 West Street, St. Anthony along with other art for anyone wish to view them.
Local artist and the local arts community is still budding on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. I get inspired each and every time I see new product, visit people’s homes and see them rug hooking, crafting, painting or making something by hand. The residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand since the beginning of their existence – it was essential for those Maritime Archaic Indians, Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Eskimo and recent Indians to make clothing, tools for hunting and history shows their use of chert and red ochre for face painting and design. This dates us back 5,000 years ago, as the Great Northern Peninsula is the authentic place where the World Came Full Circle. It happened more than 1,000 years ago when the first Europeans to re-discover North America were the Vikings. L’Anse aux Meadows World UNESCO Site, still have the remnants of the sod huts that would have been made by hand. They found many artifacts that are replicated today, including a whorl (or spindle). This is evidence that people on the Great Northern Peninsula have been making things by hand more thousands of years.
The Basque, French & English settlers would come and reap the wealth of our natural fish, whale, seal and timber resources. During their stays they would leave some of their culture behind, such as the clothing, the French ovens and the way they prepared for their daily lives, from the boat making to the fish flakes.
It likely wasn’t until Dr. Grenfell came that all the localized art making was formally commercialized with the industrial department as part of the Grenfell Mission (International Grenfell Association). People are familiar with Grenfell Handicrafts and the rug designs of Lady Grenfell. Under the leadership of Jessie Luther, the rug hooking and handicraft business had retail outlets in the United States and a network of local artist. This process flourished up until Dr. Grenfell’s death in 1940. Approaching 75 years later, the Grenfell rugs are still being made on a much smaller scale by a group of local woman and for sale at the Heritage Shoppe at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, St. Anthony, NL.
Local art is so important to our region, our culture and our heritage. Let’s embrace our legacies and also capitalize on new opportunities. Art is all around us and we should be quite proud of all the art forms that are part of landscapes, community or something that hangs on a wall.
Whether the Embroidered Bread & Conche caplin is hanging on your wall or at your dining table it surely makes for a wonderful memory – knowing a local person worked hard to present you with a piece of art by hand.
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula & Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
A visit to Ship Cove, NL on the Great Northern Peninsula was filled with incredible landscapes, rich history and tradition, as well as people who are doing incredibly big things in small communities. Only few dozen people are left in the community, many are seniors which continue their leadership role to press for enhancements and new developments. The residents are well-served by their Local Service District, that continue to maintain a community centre, have established an exhibit, worked with St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI) to develop and maintain a series of community walking trails and other beautification that helps entice tourists to visit the area.
I’ve been to Ship Cove on several visits, but this time there was something novel, something new – and that was the “Open Studio” founded by Deborah Gordon. A small social space consisted of a screen porch presents anyone wanting serenity to come and visit for a cup of tea or coffee with the most amazing view.
As a seasonal resident, Deborah understands the value of how people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador use space in their everyday lives. I was greatly impressed by her 2015 piece of art, which is a calendar depicting clothes on the line in communities across the province. Before I left, I had to purchase a copy. Since then, I’ve seen them for sale at the Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony.
A warm cup of herbal tea and a gluten-free cookie, surrounded by her magnificent handmade artwork and a perfect frame with every gaze out the window. We chatted quite a bit about living rural, art, travel and building vibrant communities.
I would recommend anyone to make the trek to Ship Cove for all it has to offer, you will not be disappointed by the scenery, hospitality and will have a unique experience at “Open Studio”. Incredible things happen in our tiny communities of the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North @MitchelmoreMHA