Just off the northeastern shore of Newfoundland, a geodesic glacier floats in the bay waiting for art lovers to step inside. This is American artist Sean Patrick O’Brien’s vision for his piece at this summer’s Bonavista Biennale.
Established in 2017, the fair flips expectations, setting an array of striking contemporary art exhibitions from leading Canadian, Indigenous and international artists in outport communities across the Bonavista peninsula. Pieces from 20 artists dot a 100-kilometre loop along the coast, leading visitors to temporary galleries at heritage buildings, an abandoned salt fish plant, a root cellar and scenic lookouts.
“It’s pretty special to go to a big show where there’s no cost,” says Catherine Beaudette, the Biennale’s founder and artistic director. “You get to visit the area and get a sense of the culture because the art is embedded within the local historical and cultural context.”
This year’s month-long event follows the theme FLOE, a reference to the flow of population into and out of Newfoundland over the years in response to the cyclical nature of the fishing trade. The art addresses issues of migration, slavery, land ownership and climate change. Beaudette notes that Indigenous artists are especially important in this dialogue, pointing to examples like Meagan Musseau, an interdisciplinary visual artist of Mi’kmaq and French ancestry who will stage a land-based performative action in concert with Indigenous drummers, titled When they poison the bogs we will still braid sweetgrass.
“There are amazing Indigenous artists in Newfoundland,” says Beaudette. “They’re young, they’re empowered, they’re dealing with land issues and culture and history, so it’s a natural fit.”
The Bonavista Biennale runs from Aug. 17 to Sept. 15. For more information, visit bonavistabiennale.com.
– Charlie Friedmann
Feast and fortune
The Inn at Bay Fortune, celebrity Chef Michael Smith’s Prince Edward Island hotel, has long been a destination for food lovers who land on the east coast of Canada. This June, its sister property, The Inn at Fortune Bridge, will open its doors so more epicureans can indulge.
Nestled on the banks of the Fortune River, minutes from the first property, the new six-room boutique inn was once the community’s historic general store. Extensive renovations have transformed the space into a five-star country inn.
“These new guest rooms are among the best on the island, and the riverside setting is stunning,” says Smith, who emphasizes the three pillars that guide The Inn at Bay Fortune – farm, fires and feast – will also be the driving forces behind the new spot.
Each evening, guests are offered complementary chauffeur service to the FireWorks Feast, the single-seating dining experience that draws visitors from around the world. FireWorks refers to the 25-foot brick-lined, wood-burning oven that anchors Smith’s kitchen, acting as a smokehouse, open hearth, grill, rotisserie, plancha and wood oven in one.
After cocktails and oyster hour, dinner is served family-style on long butcher-block tables in the Fire Kitchen and Wine Library. There’s a new menu every night incorporating ingredients from the surrounding farm and herb gardens, bolstered by the spoils of PEI farmers, foragers and fisherfolk. Chef Smith has always incorporated an element of culinary education into everything he does, and watching the preparation of meats, fish and vegetables is a highlight of the experience.
For more information, visit innatbayfortune.com
– Julie Van Rosendaal
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