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Realist Artists preparing to unveil major project

A series of paintings has recreated the life and times of Burin and the surrounding area.

Larry Mahoney and Ed Roche of Realist Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador displayed one of 40 paintings that comprise a major project the organization has coordinated over the last three years, focusing on Burin and the surrounding area, during a visit to the town Wednesday. This particular piece by artist Shirley Harvie depicts Fox Cove from the north side of the community.

The project is an initiative of Realist Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador (RANL) and will be unveiled to the public later this month.

According to Ed Roche, one of RANL’s founders, there are 40 paintings in all by a total of 34 artists.

“What it does is it takes us back through time,” he said during a visit to the community again with RANL executive director Larry Mahoney Wednesday. 

“It’s about showing what it was like in Newfoundland, going back to say the 1700s right up to the 1950s,” Roche said. “Rather than going all over Newfoundland, we decided to sort of settle on one area, which was Burin, because it’s very scenic here but also has a great history.”

That Burin historian Wayne Hollett already had so much research completed and was willing to share it was another deciding factor, he said.

Roche, who said RANL also considered Twillingate and Fogo for the project, said it has taken about three years to put the entire exhibit together.

He acknowledged the vast majority of the many communities that make up the Burin area – past and present – are featured in the exhibit’s paintings.

RANL was set up in 1997, he said, and presently has around 50 or 60 members. The group aims to make sure that “these big projects get done.”

Roche acknowledged the Town of Burin and others in the community, including Tom Hollett, have been very supportive and involved in local planning for the unveiling.

Hollett, a businessman and Burin native, bought the former St. Patrick’s School and has transformed the building into a hall where the project will be displayed all summer.

A weekend of festivities have been planned around the unveiling June 20-22 with the official opening for the public taking place that Saturday morning.

Evelyn Grodin-Bailey, curator of Step-A-Side Art Gallery in Burin, has been helping to organize the event and said a feeling of anticipation is in the air.

“I’m sure something of this magnitude will draw people from all over,” she said.

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