Artist documents family history

Frank
Frank Gale
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Kassandra Simon brought her family's history to life with this mural on an old fishing shed in DeGrau.

DEGRAU — Painting a mural can be a great way to make your history come alive.

Kassandra Simon did just that this summer.

In the Port au Port Peninsula community of DeGrau there is an old fishing shed behind the school. It’s not used for fishing any more, as are hardly any of the sheds in the area since the industry changed from a dory-based endevour to an enterprise for larger vessels.

“It’s not just for me to see the history,” Simon said. “Everyone else who goes behind the school can see it. They can see the same coastline. It’s the same DeGrau in the background, but you don’t see a yellow dory any more.”

Her great-grandfather John Jim Simon used to make a living from the waters of Bay St. George, but that was a long time ago. Her grandfather Raymond Simon remembers going out with his father. That scene has been put on three sheets of plywood and attached to the old family shed in the form of a mural. It took her a while to paint, but Kassandra is proud of the work she did after she finished her two-year visual arts course at College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville in April.

“I was happy they got me to do it,” Simon said. “I never met my great-grandfather. By painting his face, I feel like I know him a bit better because I spent so much time staring at his picture.”

Simon said the project was challenging, but fun.

She worked on the painting in her apartment on the sixth floor of the Stephenville Manor. Since she couldn’t fit the plywood in the elevator, she had to take the raw material up the stairs and the finished product down.

“It was part of my living room for two months,” she said. “I had it leaned up against the wall.”

She was given a photo of her grandfather in a dory in May. She finished the project in mid-July, in time for the folk festival in Cape St. George.

And the mural got clinched her a summer position with the Stephenville Theatre Festival.

“Because I had this giant mural in my portfolio, they hired me to do the set painting,” Simon said. “They said ‘if you can do this giant mural, we know you can do the sets.’”

Simon is now in Halifax working toward her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Stephenville Theatre

Geographic location: Port au Port Peninsula, St. George, Halifax

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  • Tony Young
    August 31, 2011 - 01:06

    Beautiful job.

  • Kat
    August 30, 2011 - 12:57

    Yay Kassy! Looks great! Congrats!