From fish plant worker to artist

Diane Crocker
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When Graham Matthews attended art school it wasn’t about making it a career.

“I just did it out of pure enjoyment at the time,” he said.

His interest in art goes back to his childhood.

“People always told me I’d be an artist,” he said.

So when he decided to enter the fine arts program at the now Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1995 it was just to do something he enjoyed.

He graduated in 1999 and returned to the Baie Verte Peninsula where he grew up.

In the years since he’s worked in a boat building facility and at a fish plant in Pacquet, where he’s lived for the past three years.

For much of the time since graduation, Matthews said painting was something he’d do during his free time.

But after the fish plant closed Matthews decided to make painting a full-time pursuit.

Going from fish plant worker to artist is a “big contrast,” said Matthews.

“And it’s not something you see very often.”

However, for Matthews it’s something natural.

“People in the fish plant recognized me as an artist. They always said ‘why are you here working in the fish plant.’”

The thought was he could be anywhere, but Matthews was happy at home.

“I love it here in Newfoundland,” he said.

“I don’t think I’d rather be anywhere else. It’s where I grew up and what I’m all about and that’s what I want to depict in my art.”

Matthews works mostly in oil and his paintings and drawings depict images of fish and the fishery.

“Things I’ve seen in the fish plant and working on the wharf.”

Matthews first solo exhibit, “Out of the Bay,” is now on display at JL Gallery on Broadway and features 14 of his paintings.

The exhibit opened Thursday night and will be up until May 16.

Organizations: Memorial University of Newfoundland, JL Gallery on Broadway

Geographic location: Pacquet, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Rodney Mercer
    May 02, 2014 - 09:25

    Very impressed by the originality and heartfelt interpretation of much of what his province is about in the artwork of Graham Matthews. These are non-romanticized testimonials to a life he very well knows. He has lived it. It is where he comes from and where he is presently living.w