Building A Legacy Through Watercolours…
Hello, Dear Friends!
I really hope that you have some time to settle in for a bit and join with me in a leisurely cuppa. I think you will be moved by what I have to share with you during today’s visit…
Returning to my island of Newfoundland from a recent trip to Prince Edward Island (for the sole purpose of meeting for the first time a new-found friend through blogging), my husband and I decided to take a detour to Head Chezzetcook on the Eastern Shore Marine Drive Route of Halifax Regional Municipality where we stopped at Tin Roof Mercantile to shop and lunch.
Upon walking into the cafe, we immediately noticed that the room’s walls were graciously punctuated with beautiful impressionistic paintings. They filled the charming yet natural light-deprived room with a special character and brilliance that could be felt, like the warmth of the sun. Each painting was akin to a self-contained sunbeam. There was an unmistakable energy and vibrance that seemed to emanate from all the paintings throughout the room. Each art piece felt like an embrace. To our surprise, we lingered way too long over lunch as we sat back, admired, and discussed each one.
Our meal was one of the most delicious that we had enjoyed on our trip. And, of course, I just had to ask our equally sunny waitress about the paintings that hung on the wall. We were once again pleasantly surprised when the waitress modestly introduced herself as the “self-taught” artist.
She conveyed to us that she lives in a large, beautiful century-plus Victorian style home with an art studio that overlooks the ocean in the nearby town of Oyster Pond. I instantly, albeit naively, thought what a tranquil and serene life this woman must lead to be able to paint such peaceful impressions. Nothing could be further from her reality. And, as we chatted a little more about the paintings, so lovingly created by her own hand, she quietly confided in us her story of the legacy that she is building through her art in her late husband’s memory…
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle
It was the ocean that took the life of her 39-year young fisher husband Scott Clarke (who happened to have hailed from my island of Newfoundland, from the tiny town of Old Bonaventure on the Bonavista Peninsula along the east coast.) And, now, his widow, Heather Crout of Nova Scotia, is building her husband’s legacy through her watercolour paintings. Heather is determined that the man she loved did not leave this world in vain. Every year, on the anniversary of his tragic death at sea on that fateful fall night in 2009, Heather devotes a painting in Scott’s honour to keep her husband’s memory alive.
Scott was swept over the side of his fishing boat in the middle of the night. His body was never recovered from the water. His loss was felt by the entire community. He was not wearing a life jacket. Like most of his fellow fishers, Scott found the old life vests to be heavy, cumbersome – a hindrance to his work. The newer life vests are lighter, more comfortable, workable but expensive – their cost, it seems, a prohibiting factor.
Through the sale of dedicated paintings each year since her husband’s tragic death, Heather enables the purchase of life vests with her husband’s name engraved on the inside. The first vest was presented to her husband’s fishing partner and owner of the vessel that Scott was working on the night he died.
Heather’s work dedicated to Scott’s legacy, and promoting safety at sea, sells fast. From the proceeds from her paintings sold thus far, several life vests have been purchased and presented to fishers in her community. Her goal is to purchase 42 vests. The number represents one for each person in her husband’s fleet.
The Workers Compensation Board, too, decided to purchase a painting from Heather. They refer to Heather as their ‘Safety Champion’, as someone who is making a significant difference in promoting a cultural shift among fishers from rural communities. Heather hopes that through the sale of her paintings and bringing attention to the need to automatically wear a personal flotation device, it will drive home the important message to persons working in the fishery who spend their days and nights at sea, that life vests have the potential to save lives.
I believe it is impossible to make sense of life in this world except through art. Daniel Pinkwater
The tenacity of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. Through her grief, Heather found comfort in her painting. She is generously using her talent and deep desire for her husband’s memory to live on to do some good in this world, and in an effort to save lives in the process. I think what Heather is doing in tribute to her beloved Scott who died too soon, is the most beautiful and meaningful thing that anyone can do in keeping a loved one’s memory alive. It is no wonder, then, why each of her magnificent watercolours draws you inside and transports you to a gentler place – they are most certainly a shining ‘work of heart’.
I would like to pass along my congratulations to Jon Tattrie, a talented freelance journalist and novelist who resides in Nova Scotia, for bringing Heather’s heartfelt and exemplary story to the world. I sincerely hope you will take the time to read Jon’s article on his blog “Paper-hack-writer”, all the news that’s not fit to print at the link below. And, be prepared to be inspired…
The Smilebox slideshow below is a tour of Tin Roof Mercantile Shop and Cafe where I met the remarkable Heather Crout.
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