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Nan Ferrier illustrates section of PEI highway, Route 225

by Sue Gallant

Nan Ferrier, works at the West Island Art Gallery in Bideford, on what will eventually be a 150ft long oil pastel frieze, depicting highlights of the North side of Highway 225

A unique piece of artwork has been under construction this summer, at the West Island Art Gallery Co-operative in Bideford.

The piece began life as a roll of drawing paper: a very long, twelve inch wide roll of drawing paper; given to folk-artist, Nan Ferrier. What use to put said roll of paper to? Ferrier found the answer whilst traveling back and forth from her home in West Prince, to art life drawing classes held on a Wednesday evening at the Kier Gallery in Charlottetown. Ferrier hit upon the idea of illustrating highlights of the north side of Route 225. The resultant oil pastel, frieze-in-progress, is now approximately 30 feet in length and depicts the first half-dozen miles of PEI’s Route 225 traveling west from Charlottetown. Ferrier now estimates there are 15 miles of highway, and 120 feet of paper, left to go.

“The idea occurred to me because I had been given the big roll of paper,” says Ferrier. “I decided to do a portrait of highway 225. A lot of the nice scenery we see these days, we see from the car, and its not a nice rectangle, it goes on and on and on.” “I started more or less at the Eastern end of 225 and have worked back six or seven miles so far. I am currently a mile or two past Clow’s Store.”

Ferrier says she decided to work from east to west, because she is mindful that as winter draws in, and driving conditions worsen, there will be days when she would prefer to work on depicting scenery closer to home. Even since June, when she began, the artist notes a change in the seasons emerging in the work. She works using a mixture of on-site sketching and photographs.

“I started out when the lupins were still in bloom,” said Ferrier. Some weeks later, several varieties of Island wildflower are now depicted as each has come into season.

Ferrier would fill her fellow art life drawing friends in on her progress each week. She reports one classmate recently jokingly remarked, “it’s lucky you are not doing the Trans Canada!” “I thought ooooo, yes,” grinned Ferrier, “that’s a dropped glove! But that could take years; I cannot see me crossing Saskatchewan in a blizzard.”

Ferrier would very much eventually like to see the work exhibited in its full-length entirety at a venue on, or close to, Route 225; maybe in an arena or a community hall. If any readers have a suitable location, she would be delighted to receive a call.

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