The Telegram (St. John's)
Owning ‘The Great St. John’s Race’
Artist, former Tely 10 champ Peter Lewis releasing prints of his Tely 10 painting
In commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Tely 10, local artist and two-time race winner Peter Lewis will release a limited number of photographic prints of his original oil painting “The Great St. John’s Race – The Tely Ten,” inspired by the race.
The painting is a historic depiction of the prestigious 10-mile race. A police escort is guiding race leaders to the finish line at Bannerman Park. In the passenger seat of the car sits inaugural race winner Jack Bell. The number 1922, the year of the first race, is inscribed subtly on the car and in the upper-left of the painting. In the sky are the spirits of past competitors or competitors yet to finish the race.
Lewis was in the Top 3 of the Tely 10 every year through 1980s.
He won the race in 1984 and 1989 with times of 50.25 min and 50.55 min respectively before making the transition from being a passionate long distance runner to a passionate painter of Newfoundland communities.
“There were a lot of good runners over the years,” Lewis says, “We were very fortunate when we were running to have Paul Mccloy (former Olympian) running with us.”
Lewis paints “en plein air,” setting up a canvas and painting what he sees before him rather than working from a photograph or still life. When he painted “The Great St. John’s Race — Tely Ten” in 2014, he set up his easel near where the runners turn up to Bannerman Park from Military Road.
“It has a lot of history in that race,” says Lewis.
The history was something he wanted to ensure was represented in his painting.
The corner he depicts in his work was an important marker for him both times he won the race. Running it is a feeling he remembers well.
“The first time I won it I led the whole way, but the second time I had to sprint because there was a guy with me the whole way.”
Lewis was born in England, and spent several years in Uganda as a child. He did the majority of his growing up in St. John’s. He was introduced to painting by a friend, who was also a distance runner and artist, Mike Greene.
Since he transitioned from distance running to art, Lewis has painted in Italy, France and Ireland.
He favours working on villagescapes, cityscapes and other landscapes, which — influenced by van Gogh — he recreates on canvas using a pallet knife to increase the three-dimensionality of the work.
Lewis retired from his post as phys. Ed. and elementary school teacher a few weeks ago and will now be able to devote himself to painting full time.
The painting of the race has become popular keepsake among runners, including sixtime winner Harold St. Croix, who wanted to commemorate the race.
The painting hangs at The Peter Lewis Gallery on Church Hill. Limited prints can be purchased at the gallery.