Maud Lewis Memorial Site
Years ago I was in Halifax with some family members and we visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Being an art lover, it was a memorable experience but the most interesting display was that of Maud’s actual house inside the gallery. I recall the interior walls were covered with simple hand painted flowers in the most cheerful shades of pink and orange, yellow and blue. A bench covered in a blanket along one wall, a table and chairs against another, a huge wood-burning oven that took up an entire third wall also enhanced with painted flower petals in Maud’s signature style. A staircase was squeezed into a corner that led up to a loft. Maud and Everett lived a minimalist lifestyle in this 12 foot square tiny home for over 40 years with no indoor plumbing or electricity.
Until that visit to the museum, I don’t know if I had heard of Maud Lewis, but now I am fascinated by her. A movie called Maudie was in theatres in 2017 portraying the real-life story of this humble reclusive folk artist that never saw beyond the borders of her birth place of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and her home in Marshalltown in the municipality of Digby. Actress Sally Hawkins lived the role of Maud, that took us through her difficult life struggling with being different because of the onset of childhood Rheumatoid arthritis, to her introduction and eventual marriage to Everett Lewis played by Ethan Hawke. This version of her house in Marshalltown is a must see in the area.
This model is just a shell made of steel. A dedication plaques quotes Architect Brian MacKay Lyons as saying, “The memorial was designed to symbolize Maud’s life: the primary colours and lighting inside the structure, represent the inner glow and character of Maud. The Galvanized steel exterior reflects the reality of the outside world that challenged Maud every day.”
I strolled around the grounds outside the small structure built on the house’s original foundation. It made me wish I had known her. Her smile radiated happiness and hope, which made me happy the people of her community had the foresight and determination to save her home from its deteriorating state follow her and Everett’s passing. If you are visiting the Digby area. the address of the Memorial site is: 11585 NS-217, Digby, NS B0V. Additionally, a private land owner built a replica of Maud’s house on his own land, which is free to visit but they do accept donations. Its address is 1A085 Highway 217, Digby, Nova Scotia B0V 1A0, Canada
More to follow as I look around the Digby and the western islands of Digby neck.
Happy future traveling from Maritime Mac
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