CORNER BROOK Nicole Keeping has been collecting shells and rocks since as long as she can remember, and now she has found a purpose for them.
More so than they are pretty or unique, the 13-year-old budding artist has been using her talent and creativity to produce shadow boxes.
It all came about through a school visit at Presentation Junior High from Sheri Bombick of Youth Ventures. From there, the Corner Brook teenager has been imagining different animals and scenery through the various rocks and shells she has collected for her next artistic display. She has incorporated flowers, leaves and other materials she can find in the Newfoundland outdoors. She credited a relative of hers for sending her a book about using rocks to make animals. While she does not even know where the book is now, it is where she developed the idea of making animals out of just about anything.
"I just look at the shells and I see a picture," Keeping said. "I look at a mussel shell and see it would make a great whale. I also made a mermaid's tale, which is pretty lucky. When I was making her, I seen the corn silk from corn on the cob, and I knew it would work. "
From her first project earlier this summer to now, she has been honing her craft.
"At first it was hard, I kind of hurt myself with the glue gun, but I am getting pretty used to it now," Keeping said. "My first one took me all day, but then I got faster, and I was making two or three a day."
Through Youth Ventures, the daughter of George and Betty Keeping made her first sale to a man on Canada Day. It was a proud moment for her, one she hopes to relive a number of times during the East Meets West Expo July 19-22 in Corner Brook.
As part of Art in the Church, Keeping will get her first booth all to herself to try to sell her work.
"I am a little nervous," she said. "I will be there with people looking at me, almost like they are judging me in their head. I never know what people are thinking when they are looking at it, but I am really hoping tourists will like it."
She is excited because the art exhibit will also open its doors when the Maasdam, a cruise ship, comes into Corner Brook Tuesday and also for Corner Brook Day Wednesday.
"I am really hoping the tourists will like it," she said. "It could be something to remind them of their trip to Newfoundland, because they are almost all made with stuff I have found in Newfoundland."
Regardless of the business side of things, Keeping is hoping to cherish the experience.
"All the times I would go to East Meets West I would go into the church to look at all the artists," she said. "They have some really nice stuff up there. I am excited to be next to some of the other artists that were there for years."
Art in the Church is being held at the First United Church in conunction with the East Meets West Expo July 19-21 at 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and July 22 from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. However, doors will open Tuesday, in conjunction with the cruise ship visit, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesday, coinciding with Corner Brook Day, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.