La Raza Group at the Pouch Cove Foundation
By G. Scott MacLeod

In April 2005, La Raza Group was invited to the Pouch Cove Foundation in Newfoundland. During this four-week art residency, their aim was to create a body of work for exhibition at the James Baird Gallery by responding to the local people, landscape and industry of St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Residency

During this residency we translated our first-hand experiences boldly into a series of paintings, drawings and a large collective mural. While traveling around St. John’s and the
Avalon Peninsula, we chronicled our experiences with a camera and sketchbooks to use later in the studio as reference material. Our large mural was on a 2’ X 30’ piece of Mylar. In addition to painting the people and places of Newfoundland, we wrote down daily journal entries.  

Thanks to our tour guide-press agent-cook-driver-source-of-inspiration Lori Butler (or known as Red Leader for her beautiful hair), we were able to have access to the people and places of St. John’s and around the Avalon Peninsula.  As a result, we met printmakers, musicians, poets, fisherman, postal workers, inn keepers, veterans, school teachers, and people from all walks of Newfoundland life, with the intention of involving them in our process of discovering the island. We had people pose for photos and drawings and in the process we hoped to have them relate their personal stories, oral histories and local lore.

What is Newfoundland?
In my experience, most Canadians know little of their country and in particular they know less about “The Rock” (Newfoundland). I include myself in this observation, but as an artist and musician it has been my desire “to know” and understand our people, history and country. Therefore these adventures propel me to read, travel, experience and learn from our native history and the construct called Canada. Alas, Newfoundland is another place to discover!

Pouch Cove Foundation
The Pouch Cove Foundation and residency was brought to my attention thanks to colleague Sophie Jodoin
, another painter who attended the residency a few summers ago. Sophie introduced me to Mr. “It’s all jigs and reels” James Baird owner and operator of the Foundation. After my singular invitation I realized that I should extend the invitation to my art collective La Raza Group, as it would be a good opportunity for a collective project as we have previously done in Mexico City, Banff, Dublin, Cologne, Detroit, and Honduras. As a result of our experience in Newfoundland, La Raza produced a mural with kids from St-Francis Elementary as a community project, we are inclined to such outreach work as it is the one of our group missions to do outreach in the communities we visit.


The Cove
Pouch Cove is one of the most eastern villages in Newfoundland and its claim to fame is the place ‘first to see the sun in Canada’. I saw this sign every morning above the library/community centre/day-care/fire department/town hall building when I went to do my email. This should give one a sense of how tight these seaside cove communities are.


Island People 
Having family roots in Cape Breton I have been sensitive to island culture and the delicate balance that must exist to preserve the people, villages, industry and landscape of the island. In the 1950’s my father, like many Cape Bretoners' before him, left for better opportunities on the mainland. During my stay in Newfoundland I soon discovered that many Newfoundlanders shared the same experience, as many leave their island to seek work opportunities elsewhere as the island can support only a few. I was told by our guide-chef-driver-publicist-pub-crawl specialist Lori Butler (as a side note, there are many multi-talented people like Lori on the island) that many do return from the big cities on the mainland with the means to buy a home and stay on. Yet, inevitably some do leave permanently, and their "island ways" become memory and family history in song and story.

It is interesting to note that Francis is from Ireland, an island, Gerald’s father was from England, my father was from the island of Cape Breton and Lori’s forefathers come the island of Newfoundland. This is something we all had in common, a shared history and lineage to people who left their respective islands in Scotland, Ireland and England either into exile or simply for work opportunities that would offer a better way of life. It seems that the islands of our cultural landscapes are not that far away; thus, through our work at this residency we looked for the voices of our respective ancestors to reclaim this heritage.

Thank you Newfoundland!
We wish to thank all the lovely people of Newfoundland who made this experience as memorable as it was. Special thanks to the people of Pouch Cove, Lori Butler a.k.a. (Red Leader) and family for Newfoundland delights and the tour de l’ile, The Elliot family, Loretta Decker and Brigitta Wallace from Parks Canada, the custodians of the L’Anse aux Meadows site, Claire-Marie Gosse from The Independent, Craig Welsh from The Express, Angela Antle from CBC St.John’s, David Marshak and family, Martha Eleen, John Maggio, Linda from the Quidi Vidi Inn, people from The Duke, Leo and the Folks at the Crow’s Nest, Cape St-Francis Elementary School, Mr. & Mrs. Redpath, Angie and Jim Baird, Mary for the wonderful tour of Bell island, David Bolduc for his Volvo service, Norma Nixon, Maurene White, Sophie Jodoin, Jan Lundgren, Canadian Scandinavian Foundation, Sean Cahill and Noelle Harris.


The Mural 
We also decided to created a large 2’ X 30’ Mylar mural that chronicled our journey around the Avalon Peninsula in words and pictures. At our exhibition at the James Baird Gallery, we sold off sections of this mural and gave the proceeds to the Jane Way Foundation, which supports a children’s hospital in St. John’s.

rom this mural project a series of interviews ensued with The CBC, The Independent and The Express. Newfoundland is the type of place where if you give to the community, the community will give back twofold. Historically it would seem that too often people have come to Newfoundland to take their experiences and resources and rarely give or leave any.

Avalon Peninsula and Vinland Series Exhibition McAuslan
Visitor Centre November 27th.

Scott MacLeod celebrated his second year as artist in residence at the McAuslan Visitor Centre with his latest work from his residency in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland. On November 27th, Scott opened his studio/gallery to the public exhibiting over fifty new works from his Avalon Peninsula, Vinland and Goddess series. The show was covered by CTV, Christine Long from CFCF 12 Take 1 interviewed Scott live on the 6:00 news.

Scott would like to thank the following people for their support through work acquisitions, Noelle Harris, Sean Cahill, Pat Devine, Stuart Tigchelaar, Gabrielle Pilot, Gillian Hall, Gerry Villeneuve, Pamela Kertland, Janice Walsh and Peter McAuslan.

Avalon Peninsula Series
The Avalon Peninsula Series are landscapes are derived from areas I visited with Lori around the Avalon Peninsula such as Pouch Cove, Red Head, Black Head, Bell Island, Portugal Cove, Cape Spear, Signal Hill etc…

The names are as dramatic and enigmatic as the locations.  I particularly enjoyed this drama of the forever changing sea and landscape. For example over the course of two days I witnessed snow, sleet, heavy rain and wind, calm sea and then pounding waves to clear sky sunshine and back again and this is why I decided to go in April. “Nothing like having the sea spray against your studio window” said former resident David Marshak, “It makes you feel insignificant in the face of nature”.

Vinland Series
In the Vinland Series I fashioned a series of drawings that were reminiscent of old vellum manuscripts, which chronicle the stories of the Beothuk and Norse people around ‘first contact’ when both the Beothuk and Norse first encountered each other around 1000 CE at the L’Anse Aux Meadow’s site  (as referred to in the Vinland Saga) on the northern tip of the island. In these drawings I have chosen key passages of their first meetings from both the Vinland and Beothuk sagas, then illustrated them with figures and artifacts that reflect both peoples and moments in the sagas. With the individual artifact charcoal drawings, I decided to isolate these objects - glorify them with the lingering essence I felt from these artifacts and regalia. I also took the liberty of writing my own postcard or last testament-like passages to give a narrative voice to the object. The aim of this work is to celebrate both the Beothuk and Norse legacies ceremoniously and carry their voices into this century, as it is also ours to learn from.  Their voices should not be forgotten.


Caprani Cultivating Irish and Italian Connection - The New Land of His Ancestors

Francis worked on a series figures on Pompeii on mylar and a series of seascapes and village scenes on paper and wood, he worked mostly in oil, wax, and charcoal. His Pompeii works are vertical figures suspended in time and place, each are expressed with an economy of line and a patchwork of well placed colour.
His drawings of boats, hanging laundry, and the cliffs of Pouch Cove illustrate the worn character of the land and the virility of the people in it. The man made objects are almost indifferent in the face of nature, looking for their place of balance in the sometimes harsh and unforgiving climate. His boats are fragile but a lifeline to the sea of sustenance. He was particularly taken with the Newfoundland way of life, as it was so similar to his memories of Ireland. Being on among Newfoundlanders to him was like being around distant relatives, which in fact is the truth as many Newfoundlanders are descendents of Irish fisherman, sailors, labourers and merchants.

Pedros Stark Religion, Economy of Line and Colour in God's Country

Gerald became particularly interested in the church next to the residency and the changing skies in the cove. He produced a series of paper pieces in gouache. In each piece he dealt with different details and angles of the religious Newfoundland architecture. All are painted in three or four bold opaque colours, reflecting economy of resources on the landscape and how solid the structures must be to endure the flogging wind, hail, rain and snow. These churches are temples - outposts on the edge of the earth, salvation for the pilgrim and families that settled the sea's edge. His sky series is more transparent, reflecting the paradoxical beauty and brutality of the Maritime weather. These works are more following visceral cloud formations, loosely painted like Turner's watercolours. His compositions are details though the viewfinder, postcards to the self and reminder of humanity's fragility in the face of nature.

Gerald's Section: "The Enduring Women"

Veils of Secrecy multi-media exhibition by Sylvia Curtis Norcross and Gerald Pedros was a successful event held at the St.Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre from Sept. 3, 2005 - Oct. 23, 2005. More than 1000 people attended this exhibition. This exhibition was based on abuse towards women in a very narrow corridor from Sarnia, Ontario to Woodstock, Ontario, a distance less than 150 km. All information that was incorporated into the show was taken from one news source, The London Free Press. This exhibition will be at the Woodstock Art Gallery in the Fall of 2006 and 2008 at Niagara Artist's company in St. Catherine's. All galleries stated are in Ontario, Canada.