On one of our day trips out in Nova Scotia we visited a museum that houses a replica of Maud Lewis’ house. Maud Lewis was a women who liked to paint and became known for her colourful folk art, a term I had never heard of before that day.
At first as I looked around I was singularly unimpressed. The art work is much like something I’d expect a younger person to produce, very simple and lacking in sophistication. It was clear to my slightly trained eye that this was not the work of a ‘real’ artist, but a person just like me.
But the more time I spent in this teeny, tiny space, looking at these simple paintings that adorned seemingly every flat surface my perception began to change. I began to see something quite different in these simple and colourful illustrations.
This woman, who lived a life much harder than I can imagine, found a way to express her deep love of life. Through simple images and bright colours she created a space filled with optimism and energy.
She did what I would never do, she picked up a paint brush and painted her imaginings on her own walls. She wasn’t concerned with resale value or what someone else might think when they walked in the door. This house was completely hers, merged with her and her simple desire for beauty.
This woman, crippled by polio as a child, who had to sit at a lowered stove her husband built for her, saw beauty in the world around her. Her home was just that, her home, not a piece of real estate or part of an investment portfolio but a safe haven in which she could articulate her own vision of the life she lead.
I think I could learn a lot from this brave and unsophisticated artist; this woman who saw the world in technicolour.
I hope that maybe I already have.