Print Story #1: Back Lane, Queen’s Road, St. John’s NFLD

thompson_backalleyNFLD_2015

Back Lane, Queen’s Road, St. John’s NFLD. Linocut, approx. 9×8″. Edition of 100.       Framed $120; unframed $70.

I spent a very happy summer in St. John’s Newfoundland in 1988. My sister worked as a journalist there for the CBC-TV; she was transferred to The Journal in Toronto just for the summer, and offered to me her town house in downtown St. John’s and free use of her car. I sent a hulking K-Pro II computer ahead of me and brought a sketch book instead of a camera in the hopes of honing my artistic side a bit. I spent a lot of time writing a novel, wandering the city and the Avalon Peninsula, staring out to sea, drinking Guinness with the locals and smoking on my sister’s back porch – the latter a habit I shook off a year or so after returning to Ontario, I’m pleased to say. The back porch sketch was the best of the lot, and the original (more representational and less impressionistic than the print) ended up framed and given as a gift to my sister.

Scan 3

Photocopy of the original, which was cropped just above the chair and framed as a gift for my sister.

I kept a photocopy of it, thinking about a painting someday down the road, but my compass pointed to relief printmaking in the end. Also, 25 years on, I look back on my time in St. John’s with quite a lot of romance: wine, women, song and the production of a truly dreadful heroic fantasy novel, which I’ve never regretted and refuse to apologize about. I remember that summer being very windswept, and one of the best for weather in recent memory according to the locals, relatively dry but cool compared to Ontario, which in 1988 was undergoing a drought and a horrendously humid heat wave.

My sister returned in late August, and I extended my return ticket for two weeks to look for work — an utterly hilarious notion considering how little work there was in Nfld at the time, and that I was “From Away” and even people hiring viewed my inquiries with puzzled contempt. That, and in mid-September I could feel a very visceral change in the weather. My sis said “I’m going shopping for a winter coat; I’m not getting caught out this year!” She came out of the shop in a parka that made her resemble the Michelin Man from TV. A week later I was back in Ontario lining up work.

Last year, my sister and her husband made a return trip to St. John’s and checked out the place; the back lane is now completely overgrown with trees.

 

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