Visually Speaking: The Art of North Mountain United Tapestry

By Anna Horsnell

North Mountain United Tapestry is a little gem worth discovering north of Berwick. Perched cliffside in a small church overlooking the Bay of Fundy in Harbourville, they are a collaboration of artisans, musicians, farmers, and interested community members. Together they have created a gallery, gift shop, café, and popular farmers’ market. Artisans’ Market Director Debbie Greenwood kindly took the time to introduce the six local artists whose work is showcased exclusively through Tapestry this summer. Each artist has a gallery space for major artwork with smaller pieces found in the gift shop, where they are joined by many other talented local artisans and craftspeople such as Judith Smith of Celtic Goddess Jewellery and Hilda DeVries, maker of popular stuffed animals.

Jan Holleman is a long-time quilter from Cambridge who challenged herself to try fine art quilts for the wall. The resulting work speaks for itself, from richly-coloured landscapes with three-dimensional qualities to intricate collages with found objects. Smaller items include detailed table runners.

Ani van Dyk is an accomplished, self-taught, abstract weaver and fibre artist from Harbourvillle who infuses bold colour and fun into her rag rugs, pillows and handbags, fashion, and fine art wall hangings. Inspiration can take her in any direction, and visitors can often catch her working with her loom on-site.

Rick Graham builds hand-carved and crafted ship models from his home in Baxter’s Harbour. Large or small, each model is intricately detailed and lovely to behold. The bonus is learning the stories behind each ship he has reproduced as Rick shares tales of interesting local maritime history.

Dale Gruchy from Wolfville creates pastel scenes inspired most often by her kayaking travels on Nova Scotia waterways. As she says, “The ocean is my playground,” and her artwork expresses the emotional connection she brings to the subject of sea and sunset, boats and buoys, rivers, and shoreline.

Susan Spicer offers a wide variety of one-of-a-kind, hand-painted furnishings and decorative items for your home or garden. Each piece is repurposed and given new life by her imaginative ideas and unique designs. Her style can range from nostalgic to fun, from flowers to Celtic designs. She lives in Berwick.

Debbie Greenwood is a visual artist herself who lives in Harbourville, and her work ranges from lovely oil and acrylic, impressionist-style paintings to delicate work on silk, carvings, and sketches. Years as a technical illustrator for National Defense have now given way to softer, more painterly artwork.

The little United Church erected in 1860 has enjoyed a rebirth of attention. North Mountain United Tapestry Cultural and Heritage Society was incorporated in 2013, and they manage and maintain the building in close cooperation with the United Church. Each year Tapestry has continued to look forward, evolving and growing to meet their vision for the future. Exciting plans are in the works for the next three years such as additional outdoor shelters for farm market vendors, a covered outdoor stage for musical and theatrical performances, a large patio facing the bay, and improved walkways and fencing.

The challenges of 2020 have been taken in stride. One of the few markets open this season, Tapestry is following recommended precautions with entry limited to a controlled number of visitors, physical distancing encouraged through extra spacing and barriers, and the wearing of masks. The gallery, gift shop, and café are open Friday to Sunday from early June to October 10, with the addition of the farmers’ market and live entertainment outside on Saturdays.

The North Mountain United Tapestry Cultural and Heritage Society is located at 3201 Long Point Road in Harbourville. Please visit their website, unitedtapestry.com, find them on Facebook, or email unitedtapestry@gmail.com for more information.