Car­bon­ear artist recre­ates his­tory

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

Car­bon­ear artist Michelle Pen­ney-Rowe sees a lot of po­ten­tial when she looks around Car­bon­ear and the sur­round­ing area.

The area is steeped in his­tory, from the Rorke Stores to The S.S. Kyle rest­ing in shal­low wa­ter in Har­bour Grace, and there is no short­age of sub­jects wait­ing to be put to can­vas.

Pen­ney-Rowe, who op­er­ates an art school in the com­mu­nity, re­cently re­turned from the “The Way We Were” art ex­hi­bi­tion that opened in Burin ear­lier this month. “It was so spe­cial,” she said. There, she and 33 other New- found­land artists pro­duced some 40 paint­ings aim­ing to recre­ate life in Burin and the sur­round­ing ar­eas from the 1600s up to the 1950s.

It was this ex­pe­ri­ence that has in­spired her to start look­ing closer to home for what could be her next sub­jects.

“We have so much to of­fer,” said Pen­ney-Rowe.

She points to what life was like in her home­town when ships were rou­tinely mak­ing their way to and from Labrador as one sub­ject that could be con­sid­ered should the op­por­tu­nity arise.

Car­bon­ear, it­self, was first set­tled in 1631, while nearby Har­bour Grace saw people 20 years ear­lier in 1610.

With his­tory dat­ing back to the early 17th century, that par­tic­u­lar area of Con­cep­tion Bay is steeped in his­tory.

“You can dig up a gar­den down the har­bour and find an old pipe,” said Pen­ney-Rowe.

She has be­gun tak­ing ref­er­ence pic­tures around the Car­bon­ear area and has a num­ber of pieces in progress.

“The fun is just be­gin­ning,” said Pen­ney-Rowe.


As a mem­ber of the Re­al­ist Artists of New­found­land and Labrador or­ga­ni­za­tion, Pen­ney-Rowe had been in­volved in the Burin project for three of the five years.

Dur­ing that time she took nu­mer­ous trips to the area, con­ducted in­ter­views and poured over stacks of re­search ma­te­rial in or­der to present as ac­cu­rate an artis­tic ren­di­tion as pos­si­ble.

How­ever, she did not find a sub­ject for her piece un­til tak­ing a boat trip around Great Burin Har­bour. There she spied an old piece of fenc­ing on the coast of Shal­loway Is­land.

“It caught my eye as we sailed by in a speed boat and I in­stantly had to find out more about this place people once made their home,” said Pen­ney-Rowe.

As a re­sult of her re­search, she pro­duced a paint­ing en­ti­tled “Shal­loway.”

It shows a large ves­sel an­chored in the har­bour with the vil­lage laid out be­hind it.

“I named the ship in my paint­ing the Mavis Inkpen,” said Pen­neyRowe.

In 1921, there were 14 house­holds on Shal­loway and the Inkpen fam­ily was the pre­dom­i­nant name.

Any time an artist pro­duces a piece of work, there can be a sense of trep­i­da­tion of how it will be re­ceived. That did not ap­ply to Pen­ney-Rowe.

“I was ex­cited to see what they were go­ing to think,” she said. “It was re­ally fan­tas­tic to see the lo­cals come out and en­joy it.”

Sub­mit­ted photo

Car­bon­ear artist Michelle Pen­ney-Rowe re­cently took part in the “The Way We Were” event held in Burin on June 21.

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