There’s no Newfoundland without nan

A local artist has created an exhibit surrounding childhood memories with his grandmother.

Local artist Jon White’s exhibit Nan’s House is based around memories from his own childhood. He says about 60-150 hours went into making each piece. Chantel Murrin/Kicker

Chantel Murrin
Kicker

The word nan resonates with people all over the world, but in Newfoundland and Labrador, memories with nan often share a common theme.  

Many might remember their nan hanging patchwork quilts on the clothesline or that moment when they cracked open a tin of Royal Dansk Danish cookies only to find an assortment of sewing needles and coloured thread inside.

Jon White, a local artist who calls Twillingate home, captured these memories with his new exhibit Nan’s House. The exhibit, which opened at Quidi Vidi Village Plantation on Friday, features eight original pieces and will be open to the public until Oct. 24 

The idea initially stemmed from Whites three kids who, he says, love to visit nan’s house. 

“When you hear those words, it drums up memories of your own childhood and what you did at relative’s houses growing upthe activities and it kind of took off from there,” he said.  

Together he and his wife Elizabeth created The White’s Emporium in September 2019. The couple have been making driftwood wall art inspired by the place they call home ever since. 

The name Emporium stemmed from not wanting to be pigeon-holed into one specific category, says Whiteemphasizing that they make more than just driftwood art.  

So far, the pair have tackled everything from sea glass tree ornaments, to quilted pieces, to art prints.  

Beth Howley is a local craftsperson who operates her business Angora Borealis out of the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation. She says each piece at the exhibit was in keeping with Newfoundland culture. Chantel Murrin/Kicker
Beth Howley is a local craftsperson who operates her business Angora Borealis out of the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation. She says each piece at the exhibit was in keeping with Newfoundland culture. Chantel Murrin/Kicker

Beth Howley runs her handspun wool business, Angora Borealis, out of a small studio in the plantation.

The rural Newfoundland themed artshe says, is loved for many reasons. 

“I guess the biggest one is that it resonates with people’s experience,” said Howleyas she sat knitting in her white wicker chair. “You know, grandma’s house or around the bay, people might have experienced it in their youth and moved away from [there], so I think there’s a huge nostalgia part.” 

Howley even purchased a piece from the Nan’s House exhibit called The Breach which highlighted a humpback whale jumping out of the water with a lighthouse in the distance. 

Each piece, says White, is attributed to a different member of his family. The piece Wild Flowers was White’s way of paying homage to his uncle Ralph who had a dory named Splinters. It featured a framed picture of a red boat in the water, hung on vintage floral wallpaper above a yellow end table.  

Along with his uncle, other members of his family are fishermen, including his father-in-law.  

He says cod fishing is a favourite childhood memory for him and his wife and played a big role in the pieces created for the exhibit. 

“They’re all really part of home, for sure,” said White. “Every single one of them is a memory and it’s nice to see it realized on a material picture and I must say we’re really pleased with it.” 

 

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