Cape Pine: The Barrens - 50" x 72", Oil on canvas, 2012
Cape Pine: The Road II - 50 " x 72", Oil on canvas, 2013
Cape Pine: The Scrape I - 32" x 50", Oil on canvas, 2013
Cape Pine: The Scrape II - 32" x 50", Oil on canvas, 2013
Cape Pine: The Scrape III - 32" x 50", Oil on canvas, 2013
Cape Pine: The Barrens III - 24" x 36", Oil on canvas, 2013
Cape Pine: The Barrens II - 24" x 36", Oil on canvas, 2013
The Cape Pine Series
Cape Pine is the site of an isolated lighthouse, situated on a cliff at the end of a rough road through the Barrens of southeastern Newfoundland. When I arrived at the lighthouse, there was a thick fog. I had no sense of what Cape Pine looked like, nor could I see the ocean. I was immersed in fog for several days. It was very physical; all my senses were engaged with the opaque light, the close wetness, the feel of gravel underfoot, and the sound of the foghorn. This place seemed to hold everything I had been exploring in my previous work, with its intimations of unseen dangers, and of refuge, survival, and loss.
I was especially moved by the knowledge that a family tragedy had occurred there 25 years earlier. The lightkeeper, his sixteen year old son, and his brother in law had all drowned while out bird hunting in their handmade boat. Their deaths were marked by a memorial plaque, but their presence was marked by all the detail and nuance of the place itself, by the tracks in the gravel, by the worn paths across the cliff head, down to the cove and up the sharp hill called the Scrape, the paths then heading across the Barrens to the nearest outport several kilometres away, to family and church and school for the children. It is these paths that I walked over and over, feeling my way through space and through time. In choosing to paint these images, I was aware of a very strong resonance with my own family history and life, and with what I have long searched for in my work.
Leslie Reid's artwork explores the perceptual and psychological sensations evoked by the experience of a particular place. Her paintings and videos bring together the sensory effects of light and space with the lived history of that place, most often in landscape, and at times through images of family, and touch on those feelings of longing and loss that reside there.
Her work was shown in 2012-13 in Builders: Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada, which included the NGC's recent acquisition of two paintings, Cape Pine: The Road and Cape Pine: The Cairn. In 2011 the retrospective Leslie Reid A Darkening Vision was held at the Carleton University Art Gallery. This exhibition, curated by former Director Diana Nemiroff, featured paintings from 1975 to the present, as well as new ventures in video. The catalogue for this exhibition is now available, with an extensive essay by Diana Nemiroff, and includes reproductions of all the paintings in the exhibition.