TRURO, N.S. – The uncontrollable ocean, vast and free, has strongly inspired and influenced those surrounded by her. For those of us who claim Nova Scotia as home, the salt air and the fierce waves are part of our heritage and spirit.
After Nova Scotia artist Anna Horsnell Wade accompanied her husband, Bruce, chief engineer of the marine tanker Sarah Desgagnés on two voyages, her perspective, insight and respect for the ocean forever deepened. Her commitment to share her experience with others has led to The Sarah Diaries Project, which includes a collection of original paintings, a book, and the establishment of a new Marine Officer’s Scholarship at the Nautical Institute in Port Hawkesbury.
Horsnell Wade’s two sea adventures were from Halifax Harbour to Québec City, crossing through the heaviest ice in decades on the Gulf of St Lawrence, then on to Sydney, Cornerbrook, NL and back to Sydney in February 2014, with a subsequent voyage on the St. Lawrence Seaway that October. She enjoyed relative freedom on board to explore the ship from the Bridge to the Engine Room, to watch the officers and crew at work, to hear their stories, and to personally experience life on the open waves.
The opportunity to capture the ruggedness and intensity of life at sea through written word and painted images was challenging and all encompassing for this established artist. She has painted for over 35 years, but the distinct sights and sounds presented aboard ship allowed her to uniquely merge her career as a visual artist with her husband’s career at sea.
“The Sarah Desgagnés was a muse unlike any I had ever known, said Horsnell Wade. “She turned my usual painting style on its head. I decided on a more representative style using sturdy wood panels to carve heavily textured surfaces. I focused on the details; grouping multiple panels for a collage of each area on the ship, and the landscape surrounding her. My intent was to share all those things that were the essence of the Sarah and to highlight the world of the merchant mariner and to honour all those I met on the Sarah. I also thought it was important to share my experience with others who might never go to sea. I hope to encourage consideration of the many career opportunities available in this vast and varied industry that spans the globe.”
On Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m., the Truro Art Society will host the opening of Horsnell Wade’s exhibit “The Sarah Diaries” at the McCarthy Gallery in the library of the Truro NSCC. This exhibit provides the public with a unique over-view of the merchant marine industry. Through a series of paintings and an accompanying book documenting her time at sea, the artist will speak about her project and answer questions, as well as do book signings.
Horsnell Wade hopes her book,” The Sarah Diaries ~ my travels at sea as artist and wife of a merchant mariner” and her paintings will pay tribute to merchant mariners and their families and be informative for non-mariners. She also hopes this exhibit will raise awareness that Nova Scotia urgently needs marine officers, engineers, navigators and deckhands. Half of the proceeds from both painting and book sales go to funding the Marine Officer’s Scholarship at the NSCC’s Nautical Institute in Port Hawkesbury.
“This is my way of honouring merchant seafarers, past, present and future, and I sincerely thank all those who support this goal,” expressed Horsnell Wade.
Opening night provides a wonderful opportunity to meet this immensely talented and generous Nova Scotian in person and all are welcome to attend. “The Sarah Dairies” will be on exhibit at the McCarthy Gallery until Feb. 24, 2017.
For those of you who did not have the opportunity to see The Sarah Diaries last year, I am pleased to announce this upcoming exhibit in Truro, Nova Scotia. More than artwork, this project shines a light on the merchant marine industry and those who work at sea. Everyone welcome and I hope to see you at the Opening.
Anna Horsnell Wade is an accomplished Nova Scotia visual artist whose paintings hang in many private and public collections. Recently she completed a series of paintings and authored a book called “The Sarah Diaries,” inspired by time spent on the oil tanker Sarah Desgagnes. The creations represent a true labour of love.
On Saturday, June 25, at 1 p.m., she will offer a special reading and book signing at NovelTea Bookstore Café on 622 Prince St. in Truro while her paintings are on display. There will also be time to converse with the artist/author and everyone is welcome to this event.
How did you start making art?
I have always felt fortunate that I was born into a very creative and artistic family. My mother is a painter and, as a young girl, I spent hours watching her work in her studio. I think I started drawing from the moment I could hold a pencil and painting soon followed. Making art has always been a natural way for me to express myself, to communicate, and to understand.
How do you work?
For me, making art is about contrasts. I prefer to work alone in my studio where I can avoid distractions and totally immerse myself in the process. I often listen to music but also enjoy absolute quiet while I paint. I may begin with an idea or theme in mind, but more often the work leads me through a process of discovery.
Creating my art contrasts with the business of art which includes record keeping, promotion and marketing. This is often a much more social exercise, presenting and discussing my artwork with others. At times I prefer the solitude, but inevitably, art is about sharing.
How has your practice changed over time?
As a young artist, I simply wanted to learn and grow, to improve my skills and explore different styles and subjects. Eventually, as a professional artist, my focus became exhibit opportunities in both group and solo shows establishing my art in the commercial marketplace. It was also important to me that I contribute to the art community as a whole. We age and our priorities and goals evolve. Today I seek something much more personal; a more relaxed approach to what inspires me.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Just over two years ago, I was given the opportunity to take two voyages on board the oil tanker, Sarah Desgagnes. My husband spends half of the year at sea as chief engineer and this was an opportunity to travel with him for a short period. Within hours I was inspired not only by the overpowering seascape, but by the ship itself, and all those who lived and worked on board. The resulting project involved a series of 10 paintings and a book about my experience.
What role does the artist have in society?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned is the necessity to slow down in life. I believe artists take time by the very nature of the work, as they consider the details and the very essence of things. Artists also think outside the ordinary and in sharing their work, they communicate what they have learned or realized. Society often needs that mirror.
Time for an update from the studio! First, at 10:30am on Saturday, May 28th, I will be reading from The Sarah Diaries (and signing books) at The Craig Gallery at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. For the month of June, a selection of my paintings will be on exhibit at the NovelTea Bookstore Cafe, 622 Prince Street, Truro, Nova Scotia, curated by Swoon Fine Art and Antiques. I am also happy to be exhibiting my work once again this year at Going Coastal Fine Art and Furnishings, 41 Queen Street, Chester, Nova Scotia. If you happen to be in any of these beautiful Nova Scotia towns, please stop by! Everyone welcome.
In February 2014, I went to sea with my husband aboard the ship, M/T Sarah Desgagnes. Exactly two years later, The Sarah Diaries Project is complete. Watch for complete details on this website.
The Paintings. The Book.
Coming in February 2016.
Thank you to Seventy3 Canadian Fusion for providing this opportunity to exhibit work in the wonderful atmosphere of their downtown restaurant. Select pieces from my Art of Jazz Series and Gemini Series will be featured. Everyone welcome.
Anna Horsnell SCA
Canadian painter of contemporary abstract art