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No Weird Ingredients

Nan Ferrier publishes a limited edition cook book with a difference

by Sue Gallant

Artist, author and writer, Nan Ferrier displays some of the recipes from her new cookbook

Ever longed for a no-nonsense Canadian cookbook containing recipes void of those weird ingredients you can never find in stores? Just such a cookbook has recently been written and published on PEI. Supplies, however, are limited. The author wrote the book as a family heirloom and less than 50 copies remain. The book is called, strangely enough, The Basic Budget Canadian Cookbook with no weird ingredients. It's written by an Islander already well known as an accomplished and successful folk artist, Nan Ferrier.

This is a cookbook for beginning cooks and rock-bottom budgets, because Ferrier says, the two often go hand-in-hand. It contains 186 inexpensive, nourishing, tasty recipes which can be temptingly served. The book also gives the beginning cook a wealth of invaluable information under subject headings such as common sense food rules, buying food economically, and necessities for a kitchen.

"After 30 years of feeding six kids and two husbands and then operating a small country inn for ten years, I feel that when it comes to cooking I've been there and done that," Ferrier says in the foreword. "I learned or invented plenty of crowd-pleasing, quick and cheap recipes. None are difficult or laborious or I wouldn't have bothered. All ingredients are available at your average supermarket across Canada; with the possible exception of seasonal produce such as berries or fresh fish."

The Buzz asked Ferrier why she wrote a cookbook as a family heirloom. "I thought I would like to pass on the family recipes I had used over the years to my children and my grandchildren," she said. Upon receipt of the book, which is written in Ferrier's often witty, dry style, family comment was extremely favourable. "They said it was just like being back in my kitchen and hearing my wisecracks," she said.

Just such an example of Ferrier's writing style, can be found under the section in the book dealing with shopping and stocking a kitchen. "You won't find a prouder, more loyal Canadian than myself," she writes. "However as I write this cookbook I am in my sixties and I simply cannot adjust to metric cooking measures when all of my life I have used cups and spoons. Cups and spoons are easy to visualize. Can you conjure up a mental image of 500 grams? So my apologies to the federal system of weights and measures. Throw me into your metric offenders correctional centre if you must, but my cookbook is written in old-fashioned cups and spoons measures."

Ferrier says it took four years, off and on, to write the book. "I am a lousy typist," she confesses, admitting that each page in the book was retyped four or five times prior to delivery to the printer. Ferrier also re-made each of the 186 recipes in turn, to make absolutely sure they were correct. Copies of The Basic Budget Canadian Cookbook with no weird ingredients may be obtained from the author. Ferrier can be reached at her Bideford, Prince County home at 831-3048.

An Artistic Invitation

Westisle art teacher Shelly Ellis wins the commission from community economic development agency for new artwork for West Prince

by Sue Gallant

An art teacher at Westisle Composite High School has been commissioned to produce a unique piece of artwork for Western PEI's newly formed community economic development agency, Resources West Incorporated. Resources West recently announced they were seeking offers by Western PEI artists to produce one painting. They wanted the piece to contain a collage of images that best reflected the Tyne Valley to Tignish region. Shelly Ellis of Coleman, was chosen over more than a dozen hopeful artists who applied for the job.

Darrin Mitchell is managing director of Resources West. "We were looking for a piece of art that we could use for our cross marketing efforts," he told The Buzz. "You will see this piece of art on our promotional material, our web site, our advertisements, you will see it all over the place." Mitchell said the decision to commission Ellis was not his alone. "I had all of my staff involved. It was a group effort. It (Ellis's work) seemed to be very pleasant to the eye. It was inviting to see, and that was the image we wished to portray-Western P.E.I. being an inviting place."

Mitchell was impressed by the quality of all the artwork put forward for the competition. "It was great. That was probably the most difficult part of the selection process. There is a lot of talent within Western P.E.I."Shelley Ellis in the classroom with Grade 12 student Derek Peters

Ellis has already begun preliminary work on the painting which she hopes to have ready by mid April if all goes well. In an interview with The Buzz she said she is planning a circular (to show unity) piece of artwork to be mounted in a 24" x 36", rectangular frame. Symbolism, realism and abstract imagery will be included. A plant or tree will form the centre focus, with a root system growing out and connecting to other images within the painting.

Ellis has an impressive track record of art education and professional artistic success. She graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1987. She then completed an education program with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Following a highly successful art show held at her home in Western PEI a year and a half ago, Ellis keeps busy with a string of commissions requiring her artistic talents. "I have done everything from logos for different groups and individuals to painting scenery, portraits and landscapes," she said.

Ellis's current Westisle teaching position, which she has held for several years, was previously occupied by well known Island artist, Sister Joan MacNeill. Ellis intends to draw on her day to day experiences of working with Western PEI youth within the classroom environment, to develop the painting for Resources West. "Working with the youth of West Prince I get a chance to see the potential that we have in our young people. This generation has a different mind set in that living in West Prince you are not as limited as you used to be. Now you have the Internet and communication with people around the world. It's a much more open market."

Passion of a Lifetime

Elizabeth Cran of Tignish nears completion of Donizetti biography

by Sue Gallant

Island writer, artist and author, Elizabeth Cran, at her home in Tignish.

An Island author, writer and artist, is currently working on a book that has the potential to impact English speaking music lovers throughout the world. The book is expected to be published next year.

Elizabeth Cran of Tignish, confesses to a fifty year passion for the life and works of one of the leading Italian composers of the nineteenth century, Gaetano Donizetti. Last August, Italian-speaking Cran, visited Donizetti's birth place, Bergarmo in Northern Italy. There, over a period of four weeks, she gathered material to write a biography of the man she has admired for so long.

Though only a fraction of Donizetti's 66 operas are well-known today, they are among the most popular with opera lovers. Donizetti's more famous works include the dramatic Anna Bolena, the classic sentimental comedies L'Eliser d'Amore and Don Pasquale, and the powerful romantic melodrama, Luccia di Lammermoor.

Tragically, illness and death prematurely curtailed Donizetti's career, but not before he had been recognized by his contemporaries as one of Europe's greatest opera composers.

Cran says she discovered Donizetti as a teen listening to Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. She admits to playing the piano badly, but says she can "sing better." She led the mass choir at Tignish St. Simon and St. Jude's Roman Catholic church for a number of years.

Cran says her Donizetti biography will be unlike any other written so far. "I could not write the book from a musician's point of view," she told The Buzz. Where Cran's Donizetti biography will differ from its predecessors, is that rather than analyzing the composers music, she deals with Donizetti the man, his life and times. "It [the book] will be different," said Cran. "It is being written for people who enjoy opera but who really don't know anything about nineteenth century Italy or what it would have been like to have lived or worked there. In a lot of the books [written so far], it's hard to make out what sort of person Donizetti was. I am trying to do better."

Cran says her research has shown Donizetti to be a thoroughly nice guy. "He was a very nice person. Kind. Generous. Full of fun when he wasn't working. A hard worker. He married the one great love of his life. The couple had three children, all of whom died shortly after birth, or just before. They were married for nine years until she too died."

The book is coming along well according to Cran. "It's not, so far, been hard to write," she told The Buzz. Cran has set herself deadlines and expects the first draft to be ready sometime in May.

Carve Different

 West Prince folk artist Kerras Jeffery strives for the abnormal

by Sue Gallant

Folk artist and Victorian gingerbread specialist, Kerras Jeffery, in his Alma, PEI workshop and showroom. Jeffery welcomes visitors year round and is ever-ready to tell a humorous tale about each of the dozens of handcrafted, whimsical pieces of folk art in his shop.Folk artist and Victorian gingerbread specialist, Kerras Jeffery, in his Alma, PEI workshop and showroom. Jeffery welcomes visitors year round and is ever-ready to tell a humorous tale about each of the dozens of handcrafted, whimsical pieces of folk art in his shop.

If visitors to Kerras Jeffery's Alma workshop laugh out loud at a piece of his artwork, he takes it as a compliment. When he first set up in business eight years ago, he made a conscious decision to specialize in non-mainstream woodcrafts. Visitors to his workshop are greeted with a veritable Alladin's cave of folk art, ranging from an Albatross made from wood with an aircraft propeller for wings, to a coat rack made from half a dozen faucets fixed to a wooden mount board. "When I first started in business, my mother would say, `why don't you make something normal.' Who in the world would buy that?" Jeffery said in an interview with The Buzz.

Kerras Jeffery Backroad Folkart is situated a few kilometres off Route Two, along Highway 155. The artist lives and works on property first owned by his great grandfather. Jeffery says he knew he had to produce something pretty unique in order to lure potential customers out into rural West Prince. "I figured by doing something normal, there is that much of it out there now, nobody would come the extra mile to come in this road." As a result, the Backroad gallery is the place to go if you're looking for a coffee table featuring two nineteenth century wagon wheels. Or a chair constructed from an old brass bedstead, with two painted wooden `deacon' heads smiling out from the spot where the bed knobs used to be.

Customers travelling down Jeffery's driveway have first to pass a grinning, lifesize, "Dino the dinosaur," of Flintstones fame. Dino has a large prehistoric bone in his mouth and is painted bright purple with black spots. A wonderful addition to any child's outside play area. Once inside the workshop, an ever smiling Jeffery is happy to show visitors around and explain the fascinating, often humorous story, behind each whimsical piece. He obviously enjoys his work. "A lot of times when I am out here, I got to pinch myself because I don't find this work," said Jeffery laughing. "I worked as a labourer before and I don't classify this [creating folk art] as being work. Time flies when you are having fun!"

In addition to the folk art pieces, Jeffery also specializes in wooden, reproduction Victorian gingerbread, house trim. He has currently been contracted to craft trim for the Bideford Parsonage Museum, where Lucy Maud Montgomery boarded in 1894. Jeffery says his business is split fairly evenly, with fifty percent of his time spent creating gingerbread and fifty percent spent creating folkart. He wouldn't have it any other way.

However, he would like to be even busier than he is now and is currently constructing a website to showcase his work. When the website is complete, Jeffery hopes to reach even more customers searching for that unique conversation piece. The kind that could only ever be found in a barn workshop, down a backroad, in the middle of a stretch of rural countryside.

Leading by Example

Roy Dyment builds sculpture to showcase youth project art

by Sue Gallant

Bideford in Prince County, is the location for an exciting new piece of visual art entitled "Youth in Motion"-or "Cultural Revolution"-whichever you prefer. The artist responsible for the ten feet tall by three and a half feet wide, eye-catching sculpture, doesn't mind which. Roy Dyment (right) of Northam built it to showcase a number of painted art panels created by members of a Youth Services Canada funded project called, A Cultural Search.

Ten West Prince youth took part in the project which ran from May to October of this year. The project was sponsored by the West Prince Arts Council, of which Roy Dyment is President. Participants were exposed to a wide variety of arts and culture based activities, many for the first time.

Dyment believes in leading by example. As current President of the West Prince Arts Council, he likes to practice what he preaches; "If you're promoting art then you have to be involved with it. Otherwise people ask why are you there?" he says. On location at the West Island Art Gallery where his sculpture had just been positioned, Dyment confessed to always having wanted to create just such a sculptural piece. This is his first. "I would have liked to have had the means and the time to do this before", he said. Made of recycled farm machinery, including iron bands from wooden, horse-drawn, wagon wheels, to modern tractor parts, construction of Dyment's creation required specialist skills acquired throughout his working career, such as welding. The artist estimates the piece weighs close to 400 pounds.

"My background right from an early age is in the automotive industry and the aerospace and fiberglass industry", he said. Dyment's lifelong fascination with the wind plays an integral part in the piece, which revolves in a moderate breeze. Given a stiff wind, it fairly spins. The sculpture is painted bright yellow, red and green.

As the artist put away his touch up paint and brushes, I asked if he had plans for a follow up creation. The question prompted a ready smile. "The next piece will be a cultural one that encompasses local heritage," he said. "The Acadians and their time at Low Point, personally I would like to see that commemorated." The British tried unsuccessfully to expel Acadian settlers from Low Point during the deportation years. Approximately 30 families lived in the region at that time. Low point is approximately eight kilometres from Bideford by road.

Dyment said his second piece will again harness the wind. He hopes to have something in place by next Spring.

Bring Back the Trains

by Sue Gallant

Island author Allan Graham seeks PEI Railway Memorabilia Do you have any old photographs, stories, or memorabilia tucked away, in connection with the former Prince Edward Island railway? If so, Island author and railway enthusiast Allan Graham of Alberton, would love to hear from you. Graham is currently putting together a pictorial history to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the P.E.I. railway. The first train ran in 1875.

"The year 2000 is the 125th anniversary of the first regularly scheduled passenger and freight train on P.E.I.," Graham told The Buzz. "It is very important that this milestone be commemorated with a photo history. Many of our younger residents have never seen trains on the Island. When the last trains were removed in 1989, nothing was done to celebrate the closing of this most colorful chapter in Island history. It is definitely time now, on the 125th anniversary, for us to remember the ways in which our Island changed because of the arrival of the railway."

In response to a media advertisement, Graham has already received calls from several persons with Island railway memorabilia. They include a senior living in Australia who has collected every timetable ever printed; and a resident of Freeland who, while renovating her home, discovered a Charlottetown/ Summerside, first-class return railway ticket, hidden in the walls. The ticket is dated 24 June 1940. A hole punch indicates it had only been used one way.

Graham says the P.E.I. railway was built through the almost empty center of the Island between 1871 and 1875. As major, pre 1875 travel, was predominantly made by schooner, most larger communities were situated along the coastline. As the railway created communities along its line, parts of some coastal communities moved inland to the railway, or whole new communities grew where the railway crossed a road.

Graham says the railway had a large impact on P.E.I. from a social perspective. Special trains were run for hockey games, funerals, weddings, church picnics, lodge meetings and conventions.

The book is expected to contain approximately 300 black and white pictures and 50 pages of text. In addition to shots of engines, stations, passengers, etc, the book also includes gems of forgotten Island history such as the Jitney or Doodlebug. Graham says the Jitney was a passenger vehicle that could run on railway sleepers or switch to tyres for road use. He believes it ran between Summerside and Charlottetown in the 1920s and 30s, delivering passengers to various hotels throughout the region.

Graham's photo history of the Prince Edward Island railway will be published by Williams and Crue of Summerside in October. To order a copy, or to share your treasured P.E.I. railway memorabilia, call author Allan Graham at 902-853-3211. You can write to Graham at P.O. Box 335, Alberton or e-mail: grahama00 @hotmail. com.

No Smoke without Fire

Nan Ferrier paints a mural to commemorate historic West Prince fires

by Sue Gallant

Step inside the home of well-known Island artist Nan Ferrier this month, and you'll be greeted by plumes of smoke and flames six feet high. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Ferrier is currently working on a series of panels depicting three major, historic, Island fires. The fires devastated the business section of the West Prince community of Alberton in 1895, 1919 and 1927. When complete, the panels will be mounted outside, in full view of passers-by, on the main doors of Alberton Volunteer Fire Department. They have been commissioned from Ferrier by the Alberton Mural Committee. "This is my first time using sign paint on a major project," Ferrier told The Buzz. "I'm like a kid with a new box of paints".

Artlovers familiar with Ferrier's work will know her lively, sometimes humorous, always colorful, folk-art Island scenes; executed in oil, acrylic, and crayon. They can be found at Charlottetown's Confederation Centre of the Arts; the Dunes at Brackley Beach; the West Island Art Gallery in Bideford and the Tyne Valley Studio, to name just a few popular outlets.

The Alberton murals are the first time Ferrier has created on such a large scale since working on theatre sets several years ago. "It's exciting because the paints are going on well," she said. "I feel like I'm standing in the middle of the picture and creating the picture around me. I'm on the street and painting the picture as I go. It's almost like I have stepped into the street. That was unexpected!"

Ferrier has found the challenges of producing large scale art in a one-bedroom cottage include an inability to step back more than seven feet from her work, "Scale and perspective are pretty much a challenge when you can only step back that far," she said. The four plywood panels each measure 12 feet wide, by 10 feet high. They are cut into sections horizontally, to accommodate the roll up and over action of the fire department doors on which they will be hung.

Ferrier researched photographic and written archives housed at Alberton museum, to get a feel for the events to be depicted. She then visited her local West Prince Opportunity Centre, to surf the Internet for images of period vehicles and dress. Preliminary sketches complete, she began work by covering her `canvas' with background color using outdoor household oil paint. "It's the most durable," she explained. Ferrier is filling in detail using shiny enamel, commercial sign paint. The murals are expected to be complete and hung by the Spring.

PEI Printmakers Exchange with Japanese Artists

by Sue Gallant

Approximately twenty pieces of Island artwork which formed part of a six-day international art exhibition held in Osaka, Japan, last month, are now winging their way back to PEI.

The pieces, all large prints, were created by members of the Printmakers Council of P.E.I. The group is based at the Arts Guild in Charlottetown. The work was requested by members of the Private Art School Society of Japan, or P.A.S.S. for short. This is the second time an exchange has been made between P.A.S.S. and the Printmakers Council, but the first time representatives have travelled with the artwork. Two council members, Lesley Dubey and Sabine Nuesch accompanied the work to Japan.

The Japanese are scheduled to visit and exhibit their work at the Arts Guild in June of next year.

Upon her recent return from Japan, The Buzz spoke with Dubey at her Tyne Valley home. Two broken fingers, the result of a fall just three days into the trip, and a large dollop of jet lag, had done nothing to quell the artist's enthusiasm for Japanese culture. "They show such respect to one another," said Dubey. "We did a great deal of bowing."

Dubey was particularly impressed with the way centuries-old Japanese tradition combines so successfully with modern technology on the far-away isle. She said she and Nuesch even had a talking, electronic shower in the apartment provided by their hosts.

Day two of the visit was spent matting and framing the Island artwork, then mounting the exhibition at Osaka's City Gallery. A full house turned out for the opening, and an estimated 100 names were subsequently recorded in the exhibition guest book, throughout the six day period. Dubey said space was at a premium at the private gallery, as it seemed to be everywhere they went.

Dubey said P.A.S.S. members appeared to be suitably impresses with the Island work. "They were quite fascinated with our work," she said. "I think we had different techniques that they hadn't seen before. They were really quite curious."

The original request for an arts exchange between Japan and P.E.I., was made some time ago. It was delivered through a visiting Japanese musician, who was performing at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown at the time. [The PEI Prinmakers will exhibit at the Arts Guild from December 8 to 30.]

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