Black Sheep Gallery Autumn has always been my favourite time of year. Having grown up on a farm it was a time of bringing in the vegetables from the garden and canning, pickling and the smell of the smoke from the wood furnace. Frosty mornings and beautiful yellow, orange and red colours were in our gardens and trees. And no black flies or mosquitoes. And for now, no snow.

Our first featured item this month is a Norval Morrisseau painting of birds in which he has captured the warm colours of autumn. Norval believed he came into the world to beautify it and heal it with colour, and stated in one interview:
“When one looks at a picture, the picture and the colours reflect in the mind or in the soul or in whatever part of the body has the colour space inside of you. So now for a brief moment you are more or less in tune with it. When you do that you heal yourself. The colour heals you. I don’t heal you. The spirit doesn’t heal you. It’s the colour that does something…So this is what I’m offering the world with my art. I’m offering them the chance to be able to find their own psychic state, to heal their own selves with this colour… What I finally find is this: we could live with the turmoil and the anguish in everything and still we could feel contented and happy and compassionate. What we got rid of is the stress with colour.”

The large relief work by Stephen Outhouse (1943 – 2018) has captured a quiet, end-of-season moment as a fisherman scrapes and touches up the paint on his lobster boat in preparation for storage until spring. Outhouse has used burnt umber and sienna stains to capture the colour of the season. This is an early relief painting by Stephen. In creating it he has glued two 2” thick pine boards together and created a three dimensional effect by deeply carving the scene into the wood.

“The Lords House” is a Tubby Oickle masterpiece. We do not know much about Tubby except he was from Nova Scotia’s south shore. We have only seen six pieces of his work in our 35 years of collecting. They are not signed but we easily recognise the people because they have adorable little googly eyes and they often have earrings and other found jewellery incorporated in their outfits. Human figures in Oickle’s work are usually smoking a cigar or pipe, and in this case, both are smoking despite being sharply dressed and engaged in handing out church bulletins at the door of the church.

It seems that everyone is scrambling to get some of Barry Colpitts’ work. He has been focusing most of his attention this year on building kinetic sculptures for his whirligig farm. We have lost count of the number of new whirligigs he has added this year. He carefully puts them out everyday if the weather permits, and generally stores them away overnight. We did find a cute little bluejay by Barry stashed away at the gallery and it is available for purchase this month.

And finally two fantastic seagulls are also available. The Tom Rector (1908 – 2003) seagull is beautiful in its simplicity. The age on the wood and paint have added a soft warm quality to the carving. Eddie Mandaggio.’s (1927- 2020) larger than life seagull is perky and ready to steal that fish out of your hand.

The Maud Lewis exhibition organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, which has been appearing at various venues across the country since June 19, 2019, will be opening at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Saturday, November 26th. It will be at the AGNS until April 23, 2023. Those of us in this part of the country, and those visiting, can delight in the colour, charm and cheer of Atlantic Canada through the eyes of one of Canada’s most beloved folk artists.

Stay safe, everyone.

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