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COMING FROM AWAY: Art and craft lovers’ paradise in Newfoundland

Quilting is very popular as a hobby, and for sale. This handmade quilt in Gander is full of memories with neckties from a father who recently passed away. — Kevin Tuerff
Quilting is very popular as a hobby, and for sale. This handmade quilt in Gander is full of memories with neckties from a father who recently passed away. — Kevin Tuerff - Submitted

By Kevin Tuerff

Central Newfoundland — I’ve travelled to many tourist destinations across the world, including coastal communities popular in Spring and Summer. During this #ComeFromAwayExperience self-driving tour, I’ve noted an abundance of creativity in arts and crafts all across Newfoundland and Labrador.

I’ve visited many museums, stores and gift shops this week, where there is an abundance of beautiful paintings and photography. Perhaps the largest display of this creativity is at The Rooms museum in St. John’s. I’ve also spoken with many Newfoundlanders in the province who are experts in quilting, knitting and painting rocks. 

The Rooms Museum in St. John's has a tremendous display of paintings and arts and crafts from provincial artists. — Kevin Tuerff
The Rooms Museum in St. John's has a tremendous display of paintings and arts and crafts from provincial artists. — Kevin Tuerff

After my Gander friend Cathy’s father passed away, she took his plethora of his neckties from his closet, cut them into small strips and then sewed them into two beautiful quilts and four pillows, to keep memories of him alive. She gave one set to her brother. I heard many stories of women and some men who have taken up quilting and knitting as a hobby.

Deborah Bourden, co-owner of Anchor Inn and Suites in Twillingate took a unique approach at selecting art for the hotel’s restaurants and rooms.

Paintings tell story of life in rural Newfoundland: This painting by Cara Kansala was developed after listening to hours of stories of the Deborah Bourden’s early life in Durrell. — Kevin Tuerff
Paintings tell story of life in rural Newfoundland: This painting by Cara Kansala was developed after listening to hours of stories of the Deborah Bourden’s early life in Durrell. — Kevin Tuerff

She commissioned Cara Kansala, visual artist from St. John’s, specializing in colourful acrylic and oil paintings. She commissioned Cara to do a painting which reflected Deborah’s early life, growing up in the tiny town of Durrell. It’s a beautiful watercolor which graces the walls of Georgie’s Restaurant. The items depicted in the painting come from a dozen stories. Other similar paintings by Cara are on the walls of the hotel rooms.

Bourden also learned one of her employees at Captain’s Pub, painted with watercolours as a hobby. She said, “Carrie Ann Burt is a promising young Twillingate artist whose work we are proud to present.

She captures her love for life, the sea and her island in bold colour and clever concept.” Bourden pays for her painting supplies and reproductions on canvas. Her art is then sold in the hotel’s Blue Barrel Gallery Café, bringing extra income and new experience to Carrie. 

Anchor Inn’s co-owner empowers employee to paint and sell her art: Twillingate artist Carrie Ann Burt was helped by her boss to sell her watercolor paintings in the Anchor Inn’s gallery. — Kevin Tuerff
Anchor Inn’s co-owner empowers employee to paint and sell her art: Twillingate artist Carrie Ann Burt was helped by her boss to sell her watercolor paintings in the Anchor Inn’s gallery. — Kevin Tuerff

In 2008, entrepreneur Zita Cobb started Fogo Island Arts, a residency-based contemporary art venue which provides support for artistic exploration for all types of artists, filmmakers, musicians and thinkers from around the world. The end result of a residency is usually displayed at Fogo Island Gallery, a 1200-square foot space in Fogo Island Inn.

Newfoundland and Labrador offer everything tourists want in a fun vacation: compassionate people, beautiful coastal vistas, tours to see icebergs, whales, puffins and history, remarkable food, unique Newfoundland music, and a creative arts and crafts scene.

Dear American tourists: buying a T-shirt or hat as a souvenir from Newfoundland is less meaningful than purchasing arts and crafts which tell stories, made by someone who dedicated many hours to create the piece. You’ll return home with folklore and memories which last a lifetime. 

Kevin Tuerff is author of Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, one of the true stories inspiring the smash-hit musical Come From Away. He is also an ambassador for Charter for Compassion. See more photos and videos from #USA2NL Maxxim Vacation’s Come From Away Experience @kevintuerff on Instagram and Twitter.

In the spirit of “Come From Away,” we’re encouraging readers to commit random acts of kindness this week. Send photos and details of your acts of kindness to this paper’s social media accounts. We’ll share them with our readers and https://www.payitforward911.org/.

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