A Challenging Beauty: The Newfoundland Landscape

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By Meagan Musseau

The summer exhibitions at Grenfell Campus Art Gallery is a simultaneous showing of three artist's work. As one enters the gallery, the lights reflect off the new hardwood floor and illuminate the work of Sylvia Bendzsa and Cecil Day: Brigus Residency, as well as Christine Koch: Colours of the Landscape.

Although the newly transformed gallery is separated into two exhibitions, all three artists provide a technical and thoughtful response to the Newfoundland landscape.

This artistic response provides viewers with an empowering experience of what it can mean to be part of the breathtaking beauty, but also the challenging geology.

As a review of Christine Koch's exhibition has already appeared in this paper, this review will focus on The Brigus Residency.

Sylvia Bendsza and Cecil Day: Brigus Residency evolved out of a shared residency at the Landfall Trust House in Brigus in 2006. Upon entering the gallery the viewer is welcomed by six of Day's striking black and white relief prints.

Aside from the evident technical skill, the drawings of Day's surrounding landscape evoke a sense of calming disorientation.

She states: "seeing Kent Cottage at Landfall that first time I knew I wanted to draw that dramatic space and live in that beautiful narrow house sandwiched between cliffs. I hoped my work might give some sense of the vertigo felt in that landscape."

Day renders her experience into exquisite intaglio and relief prints thereby allowing her viewers to be immersed within her vision of the landscape.

Although these artists were in conversation with the same landscape during the residency, Bendzsa's representation is quite different from Day's.

Bendzsa chose to create a series of drawings which were conceived on site with ink and found objects such as sticks and feathers.

She describes her drawing process as "sitting in one location until the weather or the body made it impossible to complete the drawing."

Being pushed to these limits allows Bendzsa's marks to radiate with the energy of the land.

As a viewer, there is the option to move into the image and see the abstraction of line and form, or to take a step back and witness the energetic landscape in its entirety.

Overall, this is a fantastic and inviting exhibition. The art is not displayed as a challenge to the viewer's comprehension, but rather to provide sensory pleasure.

Newfoundland is growing both culturally and economically and as a result the traditional way of life and the landscape is also changing; therefore, this exhibition is especially important to this province because the artists have represented their Newfoundland, all the while being a part of and working through this evolution.

Bendzsa and Day visually celebrate the extraordinary landscape and history of this traditional Newfoundland outport in a fresh and contemporary art that highlights the challenging beauty of the Newfoundland landscape.

The popular exhibition will run until Sept. 10.

Meagan Musseau is a fourth-year visual arts student who is from Corner Brook

and also works in the gallery.


Organizations: Grenfell Campus Art Gallery, Landfall Trust House

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Brigus

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