Summer in Newfoundland and Labrador is usually jam-packed with events of every kind. And while the ongoing pandemic means this still isn’t quite a typical summer, there are plenty of events and activities to participate in to help you get out of the house, get your creative juices flowing and engage with your community.
In Port Union on the Bonavista Peninsula, Union House Arts’ 2021 Artist-in-Residence Program is in full swing. This program not only provides visiting artists with time and space to create, but also gives community members the chance to learn a new skill, explore and develop their passion for craft, and pick up new techniques and ideas through artist talks and other events.
As part of the Artist-in-Residence Program, a series of workshops are currently taking place, with support from ArtsNL’s Community Arts Program. This month, participants have the opportunity to cultivate their creativity through a variety of artist-led workshops focussed on weaving, plein air painting and everything in between.
This Saturday, July 3, artist Susan Furneaux will lead a workshop on the art of embroidery using locally sourced natural materials, where participants will work on a small piece to take home. The next day, Stephanie Stoker will offer a session teaching weaving techniques and tapestry-making with natural and found materials.
The following week will feature several sessions that are great for kids and adults alike, including a rock painting (July 7) and salted watercolour mosaic workshop (July 9). Rounding out the week are two workshops (July 10) that will help participants get in tune with their natural surroundings as they create. After a physically-distanced boil-up and introduction to their nature informed practices, artists-in-residence Jen Cake and Steve Evans will lead separate sessions on natural dyes and eco-printing (Cake) and outdoor landscape painting (Evans), with the spectacular local landscape providing a perfect backdrop. (More workshops will be added later in the summer.)
“We have had great response to our workshop program, with most of the workshops we have offered selling out,” says Jane Walker, Director of Union House Arts.
But the workshops aren’t the only ways in which artists and members of the public can come together to enhance their creative skills. Maker’s Nights have also become a staple in UHA’s programming, offering a casual way for visiting and local artists to share their practices and processes.
“Maker’s Nights attendance usually varies a bit, but the last few weeks we have had great virtual attendance on top of those who register in person. We have a limited capacity for in-person attendance right now so it’s great to be able to offer remote participation. Maker’s Nights run in conjunction with our artist-in-residency program, and will happen every Thursday that there is an artist-in-residence from now until November this year,” Walker says (adding that in July, Maker’s Nights on Thursdays will be swapped out for Maker’s Mornings on Saturdays to accommodate parent artists Cake and Evans. Pre-registration for Maker’s Nights/Mornings is required.)
Union House Arts will also be hosting some other events throughout the month, including a closing reception for “Small Works: A Handmade Future” from 7-9pm on July 3 (which features a range of work by students, alumni and faculty from the College of the North Atlantic’s Textile & Apparel Design Program); as well as the opening reception for “repair: place, self, and future” on July 9. This exhibition features five Newfoundland-based artists (Kyle Bennett, Vessela Brakalova, Diana Chisholm and David Dyck, and Shawn O’Hagan) who use applied craft in their fine art practice. The opening reception also includes a BBQ and children’s art activities, as well as outdoor demonstrations of Chisholm and Dyck’s interactive rope-making machine.
Union House Arts will also host the work of artist Jonathan S. Green during the upcoming Bonavista Biennale: The Tonic of Wildness, which takes place from August 14 to September 12. So if you’re looking to refill your creative tank this summer, the Bonavista Peninsula is the place to be.