Black Sheep Gallery We have some sad news to start off this month's update. Well known New Waterford, Cape Breton carver, Murray Gallant, has passed away. Murray was a kind and joyful man and he will be greatly missed by family, friends and collectors of Nova Scotian folk art. We had several lovely visits with Murray and his wife, Teresa, over the years, and enjoyed their hospitality as well as his tours of his workshop.

We are heading into summer and definitely feeling the heat so we are introducing you to one of our favourite summer pieces, the beautiful bathing beauty reclining with her beach ball under the shade of a palm tree. The artwork was done by Herb McDonald who worked in a steel mill in Syndey, Cape Breton before he retired. Herb was not very prolific but he had a vivid imagination and a need to carve. We were introduced to his work by the late Lorne Reid, who was also a big fan.

The speckled bird house is by Dominic Emberley. Born on the west coast of Newfoundland in 1935, Dominic was influenced at an early age by his aunts & uncles who made violins and guitars. As a child, Dominic began to carve animal figures with a pocketknife. His grandfather would give him a bag of candy for each piece he carved, which included small scale sailboats which he gave away to friends and relatives or sold to visitors off the ferry for fifty cents or a dollar. As a teenager, he put his pen knife down and began working on fishing boats and merchant ships. Eventually, he got married and moved to Nova Scotia and raised a family. There he opened his first of three corner stores. After retirement he started carving again to pass the time. His subjects included fantastic birds and birdhouses, airplanes, boats and ships, animals and people. Sadly, Dominic passed away in 2010.

The disk harrow by Gerald Croft is also a reminder of this time of year on the farm. When I was growing up on the farm, my father would till the soil with this piece of machinery before planting the crops. Gerald Croft completed a set of working model farm implements entirely of wood, with no nails or metal parts. He also made several 18-wheel transport trucks and a few birds.

The carving by Peter Rafuse that we are featuring this month was the cause of a lot of discussion. We are not sure if it is a cat or a mouse but the cat won out because we have never seen a spotted mouse. You can definitely see the resemblance to Garnet McPhail's work. Garnet was Peter's mentor and he often kept an eye on Peter and helped out because of Peter's hearing loss.

The armadillo by Garnet McPhail is adorable. Garnet has captured the texture on its armour by using a punch. The glass eyes, leather ears and red tongue only add to its charm. According to the National Wildlife Federation "approximately 20 species of armadillo exist, but the nine-banded is the only one found in the United States. The term "armadillo" means "little armored one" in Spanish, and refers to the presence of bony, armor-like plates covering their body. Nine-banded armadillos are about 30" long from the nose to the tip of the tail and weigh about 12 pounds. and if you click on this link you will see an actual nine-banded armadillo, and can appreciate the result of Garnet's labours on this piece.

St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg is the subject of Calvin Woodworth's relief painting offered by the gallery this month. He has delicately etched the outline of the bricks and shingles and it is obvious that this church was important to Calvin. St John's has a rich history which is well known to most south shore residents. In 1794 when King's Chapel in Boston was replaced by a stone building the original wood structure was dismantled and shipped to Lunenburg where it was rebuilt and renamed St. John's Anglican Church. It burned to the ground in 2001 and due to generous donations by the community and ex pat Bluenosers, it was rebuilt and rededicated in 2005. During reconstruction they discovered that the star scene over the apse, which had been covered over, might be the night sky over Lunenburg on the first Christmas.

And finally, a painting by Joe Sleep. Joe has framed his colourful red tulips with a border of purple and brown fish. In 1981 the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia had a retrospective of Joe's work. Harold Pearse, an associate professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design commented in the catalogue for the exhibition "(Joe's) life was full of hard work, hard times, little money, bouts with alcohol and poor health, yet his paintings were joyful representation of flowers, fish, birds, animals, boats, and buildings."

Be safe everyone.

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