Barbara Houston

Your beautiful studio is located in unique and historically rich town of Bonavista. Could you tell us a bit about this area and community? 

Bonavista and the Bonavista Peninsula is a unique place. Through the landscape there are many voices with histories told and untold, generations of families are that connected to this place. There is a diverse community here and a palpable feeling of rootedness and belonging. The peninsula is home to many artists, artisans, community based art + craft initiatives, small businesses and long standing organizations.  It makes for a rich place to create. Observation, research and understanding all influence my thoughts and processes. In my short time living and working here I have learned that we are stronger together and in support of each other. 

One of the prevalent themes in your painting is nature and landscape. How does change of season affect your work? 

Nature and landscape remind us of the great beauty, the richness that is here. Memories and story telling, observation and research, the multilayered histories, diverse cultures and long standing traditions all influence context. The seasons add dimension to that context as the light, the colour and the forms shift and reveal something new at every turn. Work in the gallery + SHEEPSHoP + my ArtStudio is entirely place based art + craft + design – it is of this place. 

It is always interesting to learn about creative beginnings and how artist arrived to their current practice. Could you share your artistic journey with us? 

My journey is a life long one and one that has, in this form only been fully realized in the last couple of years. My background is broad, diverse and multi faceted – all of which create my approach to what I do, how I create and see. It all started in the Prairies where I was born, where I was taught to ‘see’ by Modernist Painters, artists and architects; I left the Prairies at 18 for Parson’s School of Design in New York City, then completed degrees in Architecture at the University of Manitoba and Fine Arts at Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design. It has taken 40 years of life to finally get to where I am, where I have longed to be. As an emerging artist I arrived in Newfoundland after a long, at times arduous, personal journey across Canada. Leaving BC and travelling through all the provinces and territories (except Nunavut) living in my Westfalia for 6 1/2 months, I saw this remarkable country, shed many layers which helped me uncover this new way of being. My place is here in Bonavista and that was clear to me within a few months of arriving and I carry with me, my love of landscape, of place and of community. 

Your sculptural work has a very rich visual impact and an impression of being extremely labor intensive. Could you share your experience creating your sculptures? 

My work in two or three dimensions considers the materiality of place in rural Newfoundland. My sculptural work is a very intense focused exercise that brings me immense joy – sculpting space, gestures through form, implying stories are all imbued with meaning from the materials. Metal strapping, a wire mesh armature and found materials creates line, an intentional form, a gesture and hopefully a story as it relates to life here in Newfoundland. I look to the material to suggest what it could be, what its limitations are and in some small way I try to innovate, to bring ideas forward, make something new, compelling. 

Your work with wood, raw linen, metal and even seaweed demonstrates such a respect for material. Could you describe the inspiration you derive from various media? 

Each material holds meaning, specific qualities and inherent limitations so through my own critical lens and observations, the material fuels my experimentation in drawing, painting or sculpture. (paper, linen, canvas, kelp, steel, torrefied maple, yupo/tyvek, tar paper….). The material or materials are chosen carefully as part of the entire composition or idea or concept that I am wanting to convey in the work. 

Materials tell stories. I use material to imply certain ideas and images and ask the viewer to engage and fill in the blanks. You will see negative space, minimal lines or marks or materials, all this is an exercise that is very intentional. This intent asks the viewer to carefully observe, the painting, sculpture or drawing, to participate in a dialogue with the materials it is made with and relate it to the place that those works represent. 

A couple of examples come to mind. Painting on a torrefied maple panel, the warm amber of the wood panel is used as ‘painted colour’ (Group of Seven) or coloured ground and I choose the grain of the wood as the basis of the composition. In my paintings of Belgian linen, the VERSO series I work from the back of the linen first, to build an organic layered feeling to the painting for my landscape work. 

Most recent the body of work I seam raw Belgian linen together with gessoed cotton canvas. The seam becoming the horizon line, the tree line, the water/sky line – a changing perspective of this remarkable place. 

Your beautiful solo exhibition composed of 59 pieces titled “Place” is currently presented at the Fisher’s Loft Conference Centre Gallery in Port Rexton. Could you please tell us about your experience creating it and what does “Place” means to you? 

Place’ is to me is an ability to look inward and well outside of oneself. It is both the details, the intimate and the vastness, rural to global communities – our place in this world. My intention is to have the paintings/sculpture and their materials pull the viewer in, an intimacy, a closeness and then a much wider, broader place – of richness, of appreciation landscapes, of our shared world. 

Late last fall in my travelling the Bonavista peninsula in that same old VW that got me here, I began to really look at the area between Tom’s Brown’s Pond and the Trinity Bight sign near Port Rexton. The vastness, huge unobstructed views, the gifts that are held in there – the Inland Ponds – where Newfoundlanders go. ‘Place’ is about looking inward (life in the time of COVID), drawing on community, observing how life is lived here in rural Newfoundland and about belonging. Early in 2021 I met with the Fishers (who were one of the first to come into the gallery + SHEEPSHoP + ArtStudio in early 2019) and they offered the Conference Centre and their Dining/Living Room at the Fishers’ Loft Inn. I set about painting. A lot of painting – enough to carefully and thoughtfully fill 1000sq ft. of space! It was a remarkable very focused intense time of painting. I am ever more grateful for where I live, honoured to be an artist in Newfoundland and to be the recipient of generosity and kindness from all the folks that are so very supportive here on the Bonavista Peninsula, especially during a time of great uncertainty. 

Place’ at Fishers’ Conference Centre and Dining/Living space are paintings and sculpture that embody the ideas around the natural resources of the Inland Pond – IP43 – is 43 km from my studio in Bonavista. Capturing the light, the seasons, the edges of fresh water and the black spruce, tamarack and birch, the hunting and gathering that is abundant in these places. It is familiar, loved and I believe is an integral part of Newfoundlanders rootedness and belonging. 

As a member of VANL and a successful practicing artist what advice could you give in regards to creating a business from the ground up? 

Creating any business from the ground up is a full time job in itself. There are lots of different models and for me this works well. It gives me winter months of very quiet focused painting/creating time as well as the gallery + SHEEPSHoP + open art studio time where I receive feedback, visitors and stories that inform my understanding of Newfoundland and my work. The diversity is necessary to make this work both financially and professionally. A great example of this was my conscious choice to leverage the Award Winning Kelp Sheep and create the SHEEPSHoP which showcases organic, natural and recycled materials that speak to the place based conceptual ideas found in the Kelp Sheep, honouring history, culture and traditions of Newfoundland. 

In what ways did community impacted you as an artist and in which ways did you notice your artistic practice impacted your community? 

Belonging is a significant part of my life here in Bonavista, on the Bonavista Peninsula, in Newfoundland. My work is impacted directly by the sense of belonging that I have found here. I had the good fortune to be offered a lease with Bonavista Creative/Living where John Norman created a particular platform(opportunity) that supports small creative businesses. Peggy + John Fisher are unwavering supporters of the visual arts here in Newfoundland and have given me my first solo exhibit, ever. 

In Newfoundland I have flourished. I feel supported as an artist and as a person. I feel I am a part of this community and I feel a great responsibility to show up, participate and share both as an artist as well as a neighbour. It is what I remember growing up in the Prairies, a strong connection of kind people, a spectacular landscape and big open space. 

If you were taking an interview with your self what 3 questions would you ask yourself? What would you like to share with the audience? Would you say you are happy? 

yes, happiest ever imagined. I have dreamed about this ‘life’ my entire life, so unequivocally without reservation I bring all of my journey, my skills and experiences, sorrows and joys to who I am and what I am creating, how I am living here in this community, in the world. Talking with a local ceramic artist (Micheal Flaherty) yesterday he and I remarked on how grateful we are, how honoured we are, to be artists here in Newfoundland. 

Do you do a lot of social media?

Generally no however I am appreciative of those that post, repost and support local businesses and the visual arts. I like people in ‘real time’, that is where share my energies, enthusiasm and where I draw my inspiration, from people, from place, the stories shared. 

Has your work changed or evolved

Fortunately it is constantly evolving. That is, I am wired to look at my work critically and move forward from the discoveries of the successes, failures and opportunities created. I always try my best to make everything with intent, with integrity. Recently I have noticed my colour palette ‘opening up’- it is ‘seeing’ the details, trying to capture a suggestion of beauty, the abundance in Newfoundland, the generosity of its people and of this remarkable place. Pretty much unlimited here. 

Have you ever collaborated with another artist on a project and if so what was your experience? 

In my life I have been very fortunate to have I have worked with many artists, designers, tradespersons, engineers etc and find the exchange of knowledge and skill is really important to growth as a person. As an artist everything, everyone informs my work today. 

Molly Margaret

1. Start off by telling us a bit about yourself, and your current art practice: 

  • My name is Molly Graham, but I go by Molly Margaret in my art practice. I was born and bred downtown St. John’s in the vibrant art community, which ultimately led me to become an artist! I got my Bachelor of Design in Illustration at OCAD University in Toronto, and decided I had enough of the mainland after I graduated and headed back home! Now I run a lovely little art shop with a studio in the back for my freelance work in the downtown core. My work explores a lot of flora, architecture and people! 
2. You also run the Top Floor Art Store located in the Posie Row building. How did that all begin, and how do you find the balance between running the store and your personal practice?
  • The art store opened up in December 2018, right when I moved back home. My amazing mom, who owns Posie Row & Co., came up with the idea for an art store because once Posie Row expanded, there were many rooms that had so much potential for small businesses. Part of me also thinks it was her way of enticing me to come back home too! We had a room in the back of the shop where my good friend Lily Taylor and I started teaching workshops and classes, which became quite popular! It was hard to keep up with everything. It’s been over a year and I find myself still trying to find a balance between the shop and my freelance work, but I have an amazing support system. It really is a dream job(s) come true.
3. A lot of your projects are very inspired by Newfoundland, specifically downtown St. John’s culture. One of which is your Mini House Portraits project – what was the process in starting this? Do you happen to have a favourite painting in the series so far?
  • I always loved Newfoundland for its inspirational imagery; the colours, the wonky houses, nature, etc. What really inspired my illustrations based around Newfoundland imagery is seeing a lot of “hokey” images of row houses for tourists. It was a bit of a personal mission to make imagery and illustrations that represent St. John’s in my own style, and to show people a little more than the classic red, yellow and blue houses. The mini house portraits started last year when I needed gifts for family and friends for Christmas. I found the looks on their faces when they saw them was so much joy. I started getting requests and emails for them. I’ve painted many houses across Canada and some in Europe too! I have probably painted over 100 just in requests and commissions. Then I had the crazy idea to challenge myself with a bigger project; to paint 100 mini house portraits of houses and business in the downtown area that I feel represent St. John’s in its true form. Once I started the project I also applied for a solo show at Eastern Edge Gallery, along with some funding to make it happen and I got approved for both! I’m very excited to dedicate the summer (and probably longer) to painting these portraits, developing my skills, and making a great show for the community. My current favourite is a mini house portrait I did of my brother’s first house, in which he only painted 2/3rds of it and it stayed that way for almost a year. It was a bit of a joke, but it turned out to be one of my favourites so far!

4. With everything going on in the world right now, particularly with work and businesses changing so much due to COVID-19, how has that changed or influenced your work?

  • At the beginning of COVID-19, I thought this was a great opportunity to explore my practice, work hard and get stuff done… then I would burn out. Feelings of helplessness, boredom, not wanting to look at paint or do anything creative. It was hard to find a balance, knowing when to stop and relax before that art block happened. I’m just like my mom in the sense that we find it very hard to relax or “do nothing” because there’s always SOMETHING that you could be doing. I started creating illustrations that we’re relatable to what was happening in the world, and more specifically in my community. It was my way of reaching out and connecting with people while we were all stuck inside self-isolating. One of my favourite aspects of illustration is the ability to communicate and connect without any words. It’s accessible to all! 

5. Tell us what you have in the works! Future goals, upcoming projects, anything you’d like to share with the world.

  • Currently, I’ve been working on the Mini House Project, trying not to get intimated by how many I have to do! I also have been working with clients such as NL Quarterly, CBC, Food First NL, Social Justice Cooperative NL, St. John’s International Woman’s Film Festival, and a few others in St. John’s. It’s been an amazing experience working with so many amazing organizations and collectives. I hope to continue creating illustrations for businesses and clients locally and internationally in the future. 

Faune Ybarra

Faune Ybarra

Faune Ybarra is an interdisciplinary artist from Mexico City and the south of Mexico. During her time at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University she has received numerous awards ranging from community engagement to academic merit. In her practice she works with notions of belonging and resilience using her art as a way to start conversations with the members of the community she inhabits.



As an artist originally from Mexico City, how do you feel that living in Newfoundland and Labrador has influenced your art practice?


I am from Mexico City but I was also half-raised in the state of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico. While growing up I kept going back and forth in between these places having to re-adapt to new cultures, traditions, dialects, and so forth. There was always a feeling of not completely belonging somewhere, this is a recurrent topic in my projects. In the 4 to 6 hour drive between Mexico City and Oaxaca I always felt at home looking at the landscapes in the highway. Moving to NL, where there is a strong connection to nature and seasons completely change the landscape every couple of months was like being given a gift. Getting to experience the Fall-Winter-Spring-Summer weather and seeing how my body adapts to this place has changed my approach to art making starting with my body as a geographical departure.


What mediums do you particularly like to work in and why?


That’s a great question! I love the process more than the actual result of say a painting, a print. I like using my body to understand space so I feel very comfortable in the darkroom where you don’t only use your eyes, but your ears to listen the film loading correctly into the reel, your touch (WITH DRY HANDS) to figure out which side of the paper is the correct side, and your intuition to when you are experimenting and you have to wait to turn on the lights to see what’s in there. I guess that’s a bit of analogue media, analogue media and time-based media.


One of the themes I’ve noticed in your work is your exploration about the endless possibilities of language. Can you elaborate on your thoughts about language and how it enters your art practice? What other themes do you work through?


Sure, so language has always been an area of interest for me. I don’t know, I remember learning the alphabet in English before learning how to write in Spanish, that messed me up; I remember creating my own language at twelve and trying to convince my entire class to use it; I still have a “visual alphabet” I made to understand other people. I guess that’s what is all about: understanding others. When I say understanding I mean really processing and feeling someone or something else’s reality. When you see the letters “A B C D” you play a sound in your head, I listen to something different, and a tree would not even translate these letters to sound; yet we assume that we see is what everybody sees and experiences. What I do with my projects is to try to move away from the pressure of what it means to me to focus more on the experience. You might not know a thing about where I come from but you and I can feel and see for a couple of seconds the red colour we see when we close our eyes and look at the sun.


I’d like to talk to you about your work θ – [TH] How To Find Your Own Language. This performance was selected to be part of the upcoming CBNuit After Dark Festival on October 13th, congratulations!! Could talk a bit about it and how this project began?


This project was developed over the summer in part under the guidance of D’Arcy Wilson, an amazing VA professor at Grenfell. I had the opportunity of going back home for a month in May and it was the first time I got to create in my own language and in my own country. I was so grateful I got to see my family and friends, ride the subway, going for walks, fresh veggies, you name it! It was all so wonderful but I couldn’t find a way to say or express this with a simple “gracias”. It was weird, I mean Spanish is my first language but “Gracias” doesn’t fully convey this feeling and it sounds, ironically, to aggressive. At the time I was researching phonetics and when I came across the phoneme, or the visual representation, “θ” [TH], it all made sense. It’s so gentle to word the “TH” of “THank” to say THank you or THanks or THoughtfulness. That’s what this project is about, the thoughtful act of being thankful. So I made this 6’ banner with the phoneme and took it with me to friend gatherings, to the last cup of coffee before returning to NL, to bed, to the house my friend wanted to buy, to my room in another city, to an improvised beach picnic. I’ve been performing and activating this banner back home and across the province. I am inviting now people in CB to be thankful with me!


What are you thankful for?


It’s a long list but I would say that I am thankful for: the sun when it comes out and hangs out with us, for Corner Brook as it has become my second home, for my friends and whatever makes them happy, for the gestures of kindness strangers have in the streets, and overall I am thankful for still being around.


This is your graduating year of the Visual Arts Program at Grenfell Campus, have you thought about what you would like to pursue after?


As I have said from day one, I am here to stay. I would love to stay in the province as it is so close to my heart now however, I would love to see more diversity and inclusivity to feel like I am welcomed. I would love to work somewhere where I can facilitate this. Community programming with a component of art – I want to see people from diverse cultural backgrounds making art, skill-sharing, initiating interesting conversations with artists, becoming artists themselves.

Check Faune out on Instagram! @wordlessp4commonppl

Emma Burry

Emma Burry is an interdisciplinary artist from the island of Newfoundland. She has spent much of her life just steps from the ocean and has allowed these experiences to influence her art practice.

Emma is a recent grad of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University. She is now about to begin the Master of Fine Arts program at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver, BC in the fall of 2018.

Emma has travelled to England for a semester of study for the Harlow summer program and while there showed her work at the Gatehouse Arts in Essex. Emma Burry has been recognized by her professors in the Visual Arts program at Grenfell and was awarded The Cottage Crafts Association Scholarship during winter 2018 and The Raymond J.G. Pafford (1937-1997) Memorial Scholarship during the winter of 2017.


  1. Can you tell us about the major themes in your work?

Primarily my work deals with themes of home, and impermanence. Landscape is a large influence on my practice and provides me with a “muse” of sorts in order to explore these themes. I use the horizon and my own personal experiences with the land to express the concepts and feelings that surface while in the studio.

Home is a loaded term in my practice because it speaks to place but it also corresponds with stability, comfort, and a sense of longing. For the most part I continuously attempt to find/create a space where I belong by depicting the environment around me the way I visualize it.


  1. What mediums do you primarily work in?

I like to say I primarily work with paint however, my practice spans across many mediums. I drift between different ways of working in order to create the experiences that fit my concepts. My art practice, and my own personality has never had the ability to be confined by just one way of working. To be blatantly honest I get extremely bored just working with the same materials. How can you depict life and experience accurately through one way of working? I enjoy having the freedom to explore and experiment and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lately I’ve been working with paint, weaving, and a bit of ceramics but it is time for a slight change.


  1. In what ways do you feel that living in Newfoundland and Labrador has influenced your art practice?

Living in Newfoundland and Labrador has influenced me dramatically. My practice revolves around my less than stable upbringing, and how I found comfort within the horizon where sea and sky meet. Each summer spent with grandparents in out port Newfoundland became a conduit for deeper contemplation between the land, and me. The lack of children my age forced me to experience the landscape alone, and allowed me to conjure deep relationships with the wildlife and scenery. Without those many months I do not know where I would have found my solace or inspiration. Newfoundland became not only a physical home but a mental cradle for my thoughts. This is what I try to express and pay homage to through my art.

You can not simply take a picture of the land in Newfoundland and capture its’ essence; Newfoundland by nature is ephemeral. It’s a place with endless horizons and infinite longing.


  1. Your piece Longing Expanse was recently exhibited in the BFA graduating show Aftermath at the Grenfell Art Gallery. Congratulations! Can you elaborate on this project and the research involved?

Thank you! Longing Expanse was the largest work I have ever completely and was my first major attempt at recreating the way I visualize the horizon.

I decided to look at the horizon and the colour blue, how it’s been depicted and what it symbolized throughout history. The research ended with me struggling with the concept that a single line was what housed my thoughts, experiences, and soul.

Interstitial is a word describing the space between two structures or objects. This interstitial space is exactly what I aimed to represent. My piece was meant to actively disrupt traditions of classical landscape painting in an attempt to show my own perspective. The “paintings” as I call them, are not stretched, nor are they hung on the wall. I used weaving to represent the liminal space where sea and sky tangle together and connected the two with the used of one continuous thread.

While the weaving is a visual representation of horizon, and how it spans over oceans, the labor and time spent weaving was what mimicked my own experiences with the horizon. Where a viewer may see a blue expanse of woven yarn I see a home and space that I physically created and resided in for hours and days.

The project ended up becoming a way to bring the horizon, or at least a memory of it, into an interior space. More personally, the project became something that reflected my relationship with the landscape around me.


  1. What’s next the next step for you?

The next step for me is something I am extremely excited about! A few months ago I received my acceptance to the Master of Fine Arts program at Emily Carr University of Art & Design. So, in the fall I will be moving from the East coast to the West coast of Canada to start a new adventure.


Instagram: emmaburryart

Facebook: Emma L Burry Artwork