Conversations

Terroir Q&A Series: Janice Leonard

Our Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey Q&A series continues with artist, Janice Leonard.

On Sunday, November 27 at 2:30 pm, Leonard will join artists, Wayne Boucher and Susan Tooke for an artist's talk at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax so be sure to mark this event in your calendars!   Terroir: a Nova Scotia survey is on view until January 15, 2017. The accompanying exhibition publication will be available at our Gallery Shop in December 2016.

What is your connection to Nova Scotia, and why were you inspired to submit a work for this exhibition?

The Idyllic Paradise of my childhood and growing up has been most central to my work over the last thirty years. Since the 1700’s the Leonard roots have been in the land—multiple histories are woven into my work as I try to imagine the events and quiet moments that have left their impression on the landscape. The work is connected to the land and the societies that have made that part of Nova Scotia their home.  

Installation view of work by Christopher Webb (left), Susan Tooke (middle) and Janice Leonard (right) in the exhibition Terroir: a Nova Scotia Survey.

Can you tell us a little about your work(s) that is on view?

These pieces were frequent destinations during my youth and I use layers of paint and tinted varnishes to present the pieces as flickers of memory and moments in time—I borrow traditional elements of romanticism and 18th and 19th-century landscape painting as well as symbolism and dramatic lighting to portray the passage of time—I date my work to produce a kind of diary. 

How has your artistic process developed over time? What informs your practice?

When you’re not working, what are activities/interests that inspire your practice? I first started my series of work on Paradise when I was taking a studio course from Garry Kennedy—the irony of the name of the place of my childhood and my concern about the demise of the rural communities of Nova Scotia informed my work. The exhibition The Golden Thread Of Memory, A Romantic History of Paradise Nova Scotia shown at Dalhousie Art Gallery in 1991 talked about the social, personal , and industrial history of a farming village and the loss of a lifestyle shared by the people , their roots planted there for  centuries.  More recent work still talks about that place, presenting pieces that communicate time and place in an ironically romantic way. I rediscovered in 2008 a piece of Paradise  (the area was inspiration for Historical Landscapes, surrounded by Indian Red shown at Artsplace, Annapolis Royal as well as Primordial Landscapes shown at Studio21, Halifax, N.S. in 2009). The land belonged to my brother, once beautiful farmland, now overgrown, with wild roses and alder there was still a part that I remembered. Five years ago I bought this piece of land, I have built a cottage made paths through familiar places and been inspired by the mystery of what was there before. This spot continues to reform and remember as do my paintings.

Image Credit: 

Janice Leonard Sept. 29, 2013, 12:00 noon (Down by the Brook), 2014, acrylic on panel, 121.92 x 91.44 cm. Courtesy of the artist.