The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia maintains the Maud Lewis Memorial Site at Marshalltown, near Digby, Nova Scotia, in honour of beloved Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis. The property was the site of The Painted House, the tiny structure that Maud Lewis made her home and canvas for 32 years.
After the death of Maud Lewis in 1979 and that of her husband, Everett Lewis, in 1979, the lovingly painted home began to deteriorate. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia acquired the home and moved it to Halifax for conservation and preservation.
The restored Maud Lewis Painted House is now on permanent display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax in the custom-designed Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery.
Designed by Brian MacKay-Lyons and fabricated by Cherubini Metalworks, the memorial to Maud Lewis at the original Marshalltown site replicates the actual size of the home. The structural steel frame conveys the somber reality of her life while the colour highlights suggest her childlike vision of the world.History of the Site
The site in Marshalltown was vacant until 1926 when Maud Lewis’ husband, Everett Lewis, moved his house, now known as the Maud Lewis House, to the property. Although this was long before he met Maud, it wasn’t until their marriage in 1938 that the house gained its character and charm.
The inexpensive 45x40 metre site was bought with help from Everett’s mother who was the previous owner’s housekeeper. The house consisted of one room with a sleeping loft upstairs. The exterior and roof were constructed out of spruce shingles. The house was exceptionally small, less than 16 square metres in area, but Maud wasn’t the type to focus on these things and her house became her most well known work.
Other than the house, the site saw a number of other buildings. Everett built a collection of ramshackle sheds, including an uninsulated outhouse. None of the buildings stood straight or were shingled; they leaned to the side and were covered with tarpaper tacked to the boards.
A neighbour, Elliot Doucette, gave Maud a tiny tin trailer after seeing a 1965 broadcast of her desire for a studio. The trailer housed a table, chairs, oil stove, and refrigerator, as well as her oils, brushes, and boards. It was entirely Maud’s (Everett claimed the house as his own) and, despite not being able to use it in the dead of winter, it made the perfect summer studio. Sadly Maud's failing health caused her to be restricted to the house and desert the trailer, which interestingly she never painted.
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