Tag Archives: art

Artist Mary Pratt dies at 83

March 15, 1935 – August 14, 2018

Just arriving back in St John’s to hear the sad news that Mary Pratt has died. Such a great loss to the Canadian and Newfoundland art communities. She, along with a small group of painters were some of the founders of the Newfoundland cultural renaissance in the 1970’s and brought professional visual art into reality in Newfoundland.

Not only did she leave an incredible body of work but her influence on the generation of artists who came after her can’t be denied. Her brilliant and luminous painting of everyday life and object was unique and bold as she carved her own path in the painting world showing the way for so many young artists seeking their own vision and careers. Mary was also the driving force behind the building of The Rooms, art gallery, museum and provincial archives in St John’s.

Those times we got to talk, like this portrait session for a magazine story, we always talked about light and colour and realism. She was generous and open and more than happy to talk about art. If you listened you could learn a lot.

See some of her work at Canadian Art Magazine

and CBC Online.

Bio on Wikipedia

Bishop Michael Fleming

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Congratulations to actor and playwright, Paul Rowe, on a successful season bringing Bishop Michael Fleming back to life during performances and guided tour of the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist in St John’s, Newfoundland this summer. Fleming made the building of the Basilica his life’s work. The national historic site and iconic landmark in the Newfoundland capital is one of those epic tales of human perseverance and will that leaves its mark in history. Check out the Basilica history for yourself!

Returning to rural Newfoundland

FAO-WWF-Canada_BaydeVerde-NL_GREGLOCKE-1647Fishermen look for cod fish in the waters near Port de Grave, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. 
© 2015 Greg Locke

Its was nice to return to some old school documentary photography work this summer. I spent a lot of time travelling around Newfoundland, revisiting many of the places I visited as a photojournalist many years ago resulting in the book with Michael Crummey, NEWFOUNDLAND …journey into a lost nation.

Once again, travelling light with two cameras, two lenses and no lights, looking for those little flashes of humanity that tell the stories of a culture and society.

I was surprised and happy to see that the old ways are still out there despite the destroyed fishery, the exodus of people for rural Newfoundland and the “Disneyfication” of culture that comes with an influx of tourism. Sadly, there are so few public outlets for this type of work anymore. The demise of the big news, current affairs and geographical magazines and newspapers mean these stories go untold. Thankfully there are a few dedicated online publication who do still produce good journalism and current affairs. One of those is Facts & Opinions.  This story of rural Newfoundland and more photos can be found on their website. Do check out the story, Life Goes on in Rural Newfoundland.

It’s Mummer time.

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It was a great, wet, fun time at the annual Mummers Parade in St. John’s yesterday. Congratulationd to organizer Ryan Davis and his merry band of volunteers. And thanks for inviting me back for another year.  Visit their website www.mummersfestival.ca in the coming days for an online photo gallery. Photo by Greg Locke © 2014

Putting on The Ice Shirt at Sound Symposium

This is classic Sound Symposium Davida Monk and Bill Horist performing Putting on The Ice Shirt at the LSPU Hall on Day 4 of Sound Symposium XVII in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Photo by Greg Locke © 2014

Sound Symposium XVII 2014

Nicole Hand and the Art Van Go guerrilla band crash the Farmers market in St. John’s, Newfoundland to promote Sound Symposium XVII. Photo by Greg Locke © 2014

SOUND SYMPOSIUM is back in St. John’s, Newfoundland July 4 – 2014. Don’t miss this wonderfully eclectic international festival of new music and performing art held every two yeas in St. John’s and draw the finest in sound art, music and performing art from around the world.  We’ll be shooting this event for the next 10 days so stop by, take in a show and say hello. Tickets and info available at Sound Symposium HQ in the LSPU Hall, 3 Victoria Street.

Thanks for the Mummeries

2013 Mummers Parade photographed by Greg Locke in St. John's, Newfoundland. © 201 - www.greglocke.com…click to enlarge

As the year ends and winter gets a grip in the Northern latitudes, many cultures mark the passing of another year and the coming of winter with annual religious and folk festivals and events. Here in Newfoundland, the remote and isolated coastal fishing villages long held on to traditions brought from England and Ireland. A mix of ancient Celtic, Pagan and Anglo-Saxon rituals merged with Christianity and the celebration of Christmas. One of those traditions, Mummering, has enjoyed a cultural revival in urban areas in recent years.

For the second year in a row I’ve been honoured to photograph the Mummer’s Parade in St. John’s, brilliantly organized by Ryan Davis and his merry band of volunteers.

You can find out more about The Mummers Festival at mummersfestival.ca and see more of my photos there. If you have a subscription to Facts & Opinions to can get an edited slide show mixed with audio and music from this years parade by the Armagh Rhymers, who visited from Ireland.

….enjoy your holidays and let the mummers in for a drink if they come knocking at your door on a dark wintery night.

The Image of Place – St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. John's, Newfoundland skyline by photographer Greg Locke © 2013
St. John’s, Newfoundland skyline reflected in the glass of the Scotia Building office tower.       Photo by Greg Locke © 2013

 

By Greg Locke

When the Canadian dollar was worth 80 cents US, American film companies came to Vancouver and Toronto to make movies and TV series. The accountants did it to save money but the creative departments liked it because these Canadian cities, their skylines and wide swaths of their architecture, were so generic that they could pass for an American city.

This homogenisation of the North American urban landscape was seen as a positive trait for the film business but it pointed to the lack of distinctive image and by extension visual identity of our cities. Notwithstanding some iconic landmarks like the CN Tower, Signal Hill or the Parliament Buildings what sets our cities apart visually to give them their unique identities?

Architecture, geography and history is the answer and St. John’s, Newfoundland has all three in its favour when it comes to creating an identity all its own. Is it any wonder that they play large in the government’s award winning tourism marketing and the city itself is a more of a character than a scene in the hit CBC TV series, Republic of Doyle …albeit in slightly over-saturated hues.  The city is a visual feast with an identity all its own.

The multi-coloured houses of the downtown woven among historic buildings and sites, all set against the backdrop of surrounding hills are what comes to everyone’s minds when you say St. John’s, Newfoundland. They are unique and have value as such.

Marketing studies and TV glamour aside as a photographer and media producer I experience this with almost every assignment for a mainland TV company or publication. They want their shots to say St. John’s. It can be a product ad or a business portrait for a corporate annual report or magazine, they all want St. John’s as the backdrop. The city has become my studio and as a location it is in demand because it gives a unique and dramatic setting …dare I say exotic? It certainly is for those not from here.

I think everyone gets that we have a dramatic geography and environment. That’s pretty basic.  What is more ephemeral is the role of our history.

Because we have hundreds of years of history we have a legacy of art which documents the evolution of our culture and society. Be it music, visual art or the written word it is a documentation of our existence, our daily lives and even our political history. Art was the first form of journalism.

Architecture is the art of designing buildings and structures. The design of the places we live, work, worship and play and like all art reflects the society and culture that created it.

The results are cultural symbols and works of art. Historically, civilizations are often identified with their surviving architecture.

Of course, with art you have style and that is often represented by the tastes of a society at the time and will often mark a period in history. In a place with long histories you get a variety of architectural styles that reflect the evolution of society.  It’s what gives a city character and identity. New architecture has to live alongside the old, not replace it, to maintain the cultural and historic continuity and identity of the city.

If historic buildings and properties are destroyed needlessly for contemporary style or expediency then we are destroying our history and cultural identity as surely as if we destroyed our books and visual art.

The city loses its unique identity and stops being a marketable or desirable place to visit, do business or be a creative centre simply because it will be, visually, no different than any other small Canadian or American city.

Tourists, film crews, photographers and business conventions come here because of St. John’s’ unique geography, history and art. That art includes our historic architectural cityscape.

Greg Locke is a professional photographer and media producer in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He sits on the board of the Newfoundland Historic Trust. This article originally appeared in the Newfoundland Historic Trust publication The Trident. (Down load pdf of the full spring issue)