Sunday, 29 September 2013

Cultural Tourism in St. John's, Newfoundland

Arguably the cod are gone, we don't know how long oil with last, or what price it will fetch but culture looks like our best bet as Newfoundland and Labrador's number 1 renewable resource.  It reflects our cultural identity, tells the world what makes our province different and it draws tourists year after year.  We can even make our bad weather sexy or at least tolerable if you live here.  We warm each other's souls with shared visions and delights. And tourists sense this.

What sparks these thoughts?  This week I had the pleasure to work with Kevin Major as he led a group of 13 tourists to many of the cultural sights and sounds of St. John's.  I really enjoy working with these groups because they are genuinely interested in what our culture has to offer.  They ask great questions with complete unpredictability.  And each and everyone of them has an interesting story to share of their own.  They are a joy to meet.  And I get to talk about things I care about.  We share passions.

This past week, I was on tap as a resource at The Plantation and the Craft Council Gallery where we had two shows up.  Margaret Walsh Best's show that traces the relationship between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador, with 16 artists from the two places.  Plants are the common denominator, which is a grand curatorial theme.  We recreate gardens, foods and accidentally transplant seeds from home when we immigrate.  And this show celebrates our common roots (pardon the pun) with gorgeous jewellery, mats, paintings and pottery.  The ladies really liked the jewellery by Don Beaubier and commented to me that it was reasonably priced.  
This brooch by Don Beaubier was especially popular with the Adventure Canada crowd.  One lady from Scotland was reminded of her country's jewelry traditions.

Ray Cox's show was also on the agenda.  And his creative approach to pewter scored big points. I was glad that he had small sturdy items at the right price point, that they could actually pay for and take away.

In the shop downstairs, knits were the big hit with shawls coming in second.  Trigger mitts, thrummed socks and Mary Hood's dragons were all popular.

Ray Cox's pewter impresses with the unconventional colour palette that is his trademark.

From this Friday's report on VOCM:

This year's St. John's International Women's Film Festival takes place from October 22nd to the 26th in various venues around the city. The festival received a record 500 submissions from around the globe in its 24th year, and will be screening 72 in total. Opening night will kick off the festival with Award Winning Film, The Grand Seduction, starring local actors Mark Critch, Gordon Pinsent and Mary Walsh, and then go out with a bang on closing night with a screening of Hold Fast, the film adaptation of Kevin Major's Governor General Award winning novel.

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