NSCAD adds to Lunenburg's arts and culture vibe
March 5, 2012

Lynette de Montreuil, participant in the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Residency Program and Senator Wilfred Moore pose outside the old Lunenburg Fire Hall, where the residency is based.
Who said small-town life was slow paced?

For Lynette de Montreuil, a recent NSCAD grad and participant in NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Residency Program, it’s been go, go, go ever since she arrived in Lunenburg. As well as developing her studio practice, she bowls in a league, makes crafts, joined a knitting group and leads a Sparks group.

“What I was really hoping for post graduation was to keep the momentum going,” says Lynette (BFA 2011), from Surrey, B.C. “What’s so valuable about the residency is that it gives you the space and the affordable living accommodations that allow you to continue making art. Otherwise, between student loans and the basic necessities of life, the ability to be creative is impeded.”

There are three young grads—Lynette, Nadia Gemeinhardt and Jason Skinner—who reside currently in historic Lunenburg. Located in the former fire hall, across the street from the magnificent St. John’s Anglican Church, the trio shares an apartment upstairs and an expansive, light-filled studio downstairs.

Lynette believes her experience went from good to great through her participation in town life. Community involvement, after all, is expected of the residents—they hold workshops and exhibitions, host guest lectures and do art classes with school kids. They even made their own float and entered it in Lunenburg’s Christmas parade.

But the connection is deeper for Lynette—and the positive effects spill over into her artistic work.

“I just started out by introducing myself everywhere—‘Hey, I’m Lynette. I’m living over at the fire hall. Nice to meet you.’ That kind of thing,” says Lynette, who also landed a part-time job at the Scuttlebutt Restaurant. The job helps pay for groceries and—bonus—is a place to show her work. “I really feel I can share my artistic passion here and that part is very inspiring.”

The connection to community is so strong that in some cases the residents chose to stay after the year-long program ends. Amélie Jérôme (BFA 2010), originally from Montreal, lives and works on her art everyday in the scenic fishing village of Blue Rocks. Rebecca Roher (BFA 2010) quilts and paints in nearby West Dublin.

Kat Frick Miller (BFA 2009) also decided to stay in the area after doing the residency two years ago. A “kid from the suburbs” of Brampton, Ontario, she’s drawn to rural life and uses it as her inspiration for her painting and textile screen-printed work.

“There’s quite an art community here, so it made the transition easy and appealing—it’s tight knit and supportive,” says Kat, whose Fox Acre Row studio is located in the South Shore village of Rose Bay. Kat, who recently had a solo exhibition at the Black Duck Gallery in Lunenburg, explains rural living gives her the head space to create, but at the same time, if she needs to talk to someone or show her work, she can do that too. “It’s the ideal balance,” she says.

Senator Wilfred Moore couldn’t be more delighted with the way things have transpired over the past six years. He came up with the idea of the residency for Lunenburg and was instrumental in setting up a meeting between then-NSCAD president Paul Greenhalgh and Lunenburg Mayor Laurence Mawhinney. He saw a connection with NSCAD as crucial, given the importance of arts and culture along Nova Scotia’s scenic South Shore.
Senator Moore chuckles as he recalls approaching Paul Greenhalgh with the idea.

“I want you to open a facility in Lunenburg,” he told him. “You are the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design after all, not the Halifax College of Art and Design.”

Under President David B. Smith’s tenure, the residency program has been expanded. There are three recent grads —Annalise Prodor, Krissi MacKenzie, Katherine Roux—now working and residing in the Town of New Glasgow. And a new program will begin this summer in Sydney, a partnership with the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. The residencies are administered through NSCAD’s School of Extended Studies.

“There’s nothing like a university presence to energize a community,” says Senator Moore, who divides his time between his Lunenburg office and Ottawa. “The residents, most from outside the province, bring their personalities, youth and interesting backgrounds with them and that’s a good thing. The residency is clearly an enhancement to the Town of Lunenburg.”

The benefits go both ways, adds Professor Emeritus Walter Ostrom, who moved to Lunenburg after 38 years teaching ceramics at NSCAD. “I think it gives the children and parents of this town a taste for art, a better appreciation for it … the kids can see themselves being artists. It makes people more comfortable with artists; they’re not that scary after all, but down -to-earth and hard working, and they do so many things: quilting, ceramics, painting, photography you name it.

"The residency represents NSCAD well; it’s like a microcosm of the university.”

Lynette de Montreuil works inside the spacious studio she shares with fellow residents Nadia Gemeinhardt and Jason Skinner.