It doesn’t take much to recognize that the Fundy region is home to some incredible artists. One need only pick up a Fundy Studio Tour map and stop at one or several of the studios en route to know this fact to be true. Per capita, it seems we have- and have always had- an excess of talent in our small but beautiful corner of the world, and more and more artists are choosing to live and create in Albert County. Fine art and craft has been integral to the fabric of the Fundy region for quite some time. In fact, in the 1950s, Fundy National Park was home to a thriving summer craft school, that would later evolve into the NB College of Craft and Design.
You can meet Brookie and Emma at The Devil’s Loft: A Makers’ Space upstairs at the Octopus’ Garden Café in Alma. The name of the space is a nod to the Devil’s Half Acre area of Fundy National Park, where the earliest inception of the NB College of Craft and Design stood in the 1950s. In May 2019, Brookie and Emma worked to transform the loft into an open and inviting space where everyone can feel welcome to create, converse, or simply enjoy their coffee. The space is a home base for Brookie and Emma to create their own works of art, and engage in a dialogue about arts in the Fundy region with tourists and local visitors to the café. The space will also feature works of art from Fundy Studio Tour artists so tour-goers can have a sneak peak and plan their Albert County art explorations.
The Devil’s Loft has comfy chairs and a large work table. Brookie and Emma invite you to bring your knitting supplies, drawing materials, or whatever creative practice you enjoy–or simply a glass of wine or cup of coffee – and spend time in the space. “It’s like a good bar,” they say. “People are going to want to come here because it’s cool and fun, with a happy atmosphere – somewhere to talk openly.”
“Every town needs to have a safe and creative space,” they say, and that applies to villages as well.
Brookie and Emma will be joining Fundy National Park Interpreters for weekly “Art in the Park” programs running through July and August. These workshop-style programs will cover a variety of topics like needle felting, making fairy homes, puppet making and nature journaling. Some of the workshops will be geared more towards adults, whereas others will be designed for the entire family. Make sure to check the Interpretation schedule at the Park Visitor Centre for specific details that week, especially given that some of these programs will require registration. In addition, you may have heard that the annual Rising Tide Festival at Fundy National Park is expanding. To celebrate its tenth year and with help from the Building Community through Arts and Heritage Grant, the festival will reach outside of the Park and into surrounding communities, where there will be musical performances from August 12th to 16th, the week leading up to the finale in the Park. Emma and Brookie will be coordinating the art workshops component of the Rising Tide Festival Community expansion.
This is not the first time that Fine Arts students from Mount Allison have worked in and around Fundy National Park. Since 2015, a third-year photography class has been visiting the Park at least once a year for a work weekend, creating art inspired by place and the breathtaking landscapes of Fundy for classroom assignments. In 2017, the partnership was formalized and the first student art exhibition–LandMarks 2017–was on display in the Park. Site-specific work was installed in the Headquarters Visitor Centre, the Salt & Fir Centre, and on a number of trails throughout the Park. The following year, the photography students were joined by a sculpture class, and their work was installed in both the Headquarters’ and Wolfe Lake Visitor Centres, and on the Blackhorse Trail. This year, photography and sculpture students will once again have exhibitions in these three locations. In November, during this year’s group’s first visit to Fundy National Park, the Friends of Fundy facilitated a panel discussion with local artists at the Holy Whale Brewing Co. in Alma. The partnership between Fundy National Park and Mount Allison–including this community panel discussion and Brookie and Emma’s work this summer with the Friends of Fundy–is part of an ongoing effort to help build awareness around the legacy of arts and culture in the Fundy region, and the artists and artisans who currently call Albert County home.
Kat Hallett is the PR & Community Engagement Coordinator at the Friends of Fundy/Fundy Guild Inc. The Friends of Fundy work to increase public awareness & enjoyment of the natural and cultural heritage of Fundy National Park & surrounding communities.