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New exhibit at Port Saint John Gallery shows life at the port

By Joe Thomson Sep 12, 2023 | 12:00 PM

Courtesy of the Saint John Arts Centre.

There is a new exhibit at the Port Saint John Gallery showcasing the port and what it is like working there on a daily basis.

The exhibit features 16 paintings by Sussex-based artist Fred Harrison, who was announced last year as the Port Saint John Artist-in-Residence.

The artist-in-residence program was launched in 2020 with the goal of having a different artist spend a year producing works related to the port.

Sarah Sackville was the first artist to receive the honour. Her exhibit was features at the gallery in 2021.

Andrew Kierstead is the executive director of the Saint John Arts Centre and part of the jury that selected Harrison as the latest artist to receive the residency. He says his style lends perfectly to depicting the large landscapes of the port.

“Working large scale was something that we were encouraged with, and some of these paintings are very large, but it’s also his application of paint and the vibrancy of how he paints. The works are very stunning, and really have a wonderful feel about them,” said Kierstead.

The exhibit was unveiled during a ceremony last Friday that was attended by nearly 200 people. Kierstead says people were thoroughly impressed with Harrison’s work, which show parts of the port that people had never seen before.

“It’s interesting to get the view because none of us have been in the port. We always see it as a piece of landscape from across from, say, the city center, looking towards the west side,” said Kierstead. “But to actually see a painting done from inside of a crane, and the view of the city that they would be seeing was spectacular.”

Kierstead is referring to what he calls his favourite of the 16 paintings, appropriately named Bringing in the New Cranes. It was painted by Harrison from the inside of one of the port’s cranes and shows a view of the city at nighttime.

“It just has this wonderful sense of movement to it. There’s a lot of shimming in the water where you get the sense of a light dancing on the harbour itself … and obviously, the new cranes are on a barge ready to be positioned to be offloaded. The city is bright with lights as the evening is coming on, and it’s a very large painting and very easy to step into. It has this wonderful presence about it,” said Kierstead.

You can visit the gallery during their operating hours between Tuesday and Saturday. Harrison’s exhibit will be showcased until October 27.