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Twillingate yarn artist opens outside art gallery


Nicholas Mercer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

For others, Main Street in Twillingate is just the main access point to the heart of the community.

Artist Nina Elliott sees something different. Rather, it is Elliott’s yarn-bombing alter ego, the Rock Vandal, who sees the street as an open canvas waiting for that splash of colour.

Starting this week, the Rock Vandal has been stapling pieces of her yarn artwork — she always gets permission before placing them — to various clapboard siding buildings on Main Street in what she believes is Newfoundland’s first open air art gallery.

“I am considering this my first show,” she said.

The plan is to showcase eight or nine of her freehand crochet creations on various buildings along the street, just as would be done in an art gallery. Each piece will stay up for two weeks.

She will unveil some new pieces during the street art exhibition, while also reworking some of her old favourites, like the Waldo piece she moved around the region last summer.

“Overall, the theme of this is uplifting art, and the characters that I am bringing back will be reimagined with some form of coronavirus takeaway,” she said.

It was a project the Rock Vandal had planned to put together over the summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans. She had the idea of helping attract tourists to the Twillingate region through her street art.

However, instead of trying to draw people to the area, the exhibit will now serve to offer some positivity to her neighbours.

“Given what is going on, it just felt like this was the right time to launch it,” said the Rock Vandal. “It is a little bit for me, but also just for the community.

“It is one thing to roll out the red carpet for the tourists, but we have to look out for each other right now.”

To help promote the idea and her work, the Rock Vandal contacted the Town of Twillingate and its recreation director, Jeff Blackler.

He was only too happy to help with the project any way he could. It has mostly been on the town’s Facebook page, and Blackler said each post he makes is followed by a big response from followers.

“In these times, anything that can get people out and active and something to look forward to is a bonus in our town,” said Blackler.

Speaking of getting people out, the exhibit will be laid out in a way that the residents of Twillingate will be able to enjoy it from their cars or on their evening walks, with a focus on maintaining physical distancing.

The Rock Vandal wants people to use her work to help break the monotony of the times.

“It is really about bringing colour and positivity to the community,” she said.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, silver linings are starting to appear. These linings come in the form of music, artisanship and food.

More and more people are starting to showcase themselves and their talents on social media as a way combat the cabin fever that grips them through the physical distancing regulations.

The Rock Vandal found her lining and she is encouraging others to do the same.

“My hope is that everyone can try to be considerate to one another during this time and figure out what you can do to make your community a positive place,” she said. “Find a silver lining for you and maybe how you can share it.”

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Central Newfoundland for Saltwire Network.

nicholas.mercer@thecentralvoice.ca

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