IF YOU WANT an in-depth picture of a place, go to its artists. Artists — be they painters, potters, athletes, chefs, or musicians — not only give us a glimpse into their home through its artwork, but through the raw materials they use, and finally through themselves.
The Canadian Maritime province of Nova Scotia is home to an incredible collection of artists, and it’s fascinating to look at how the landscape of their rugged island home shapes them creatively. Take Joan Bruneau, a potter based out of the stunningly scenic port town (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Lunenburg, on Nova Scotia’s Mahone Bay. Bruneau uses the local clay to create beautiful pots and ceramics; one could imagine that if she lived in another area, her pottery would be made up of entirely different earth, and as such would be fundamentally distinct from what she now produces.
Or take Andrew Farrell, chef de cuisine at the Halifax restaurant 2 Doors Down. Farrell works with Nova Scotian farmers to source as many fresh ingredients as possible; what’s available locally dictates what’s on the daily menu. Without the local food, the cuisine would be completely different.
There are endless examples: Harbourville painter and visual artist Brianne Williams takes her inspiration directly from the beaches, waters, and landscapes around her. Peggys Cove rower and adventurer Jim Lindsey wouldn’t be able to do what he does without access to the coast around the community’s famous lighthouse. Cape Breton songwriter and bagpiper Rankin MacInnis manages to straddle oceans with his music, taking Scotland’s legendary instrument and making it sound right at home in Nova Scotia (or “New Scotland,” translated directly), putting a Canadian spin on the old country’s music.
A person does not take shape separately from his or her environment. Artisans and craftspeople are formed by their lands, so it goes without saying: Spectacular lands create spectacular artists.