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Mad about Maud: Love of iconic N.S. folk artist reaches Asia
The love of Nova Scotia’s Maud Lewis has now reached Asia, where there is interest in creating an exhibit dedicated to the iconic folk artist.
A number of government officials recently spent a week in Asia, promoting Nova Scotia theatre, music, and art. Leo Glavine, the provincial minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, led the seven-day trade mission in China and Japan, at a cost of $80,000.
Glavine says he was surprised by the amount of interest in Maud Lewis in both countries; an estimated100,000 people in Japan have seen the biopic “Maudie,” which was released last year and starred Hollywood actors Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke as Lewis and her husband, Everett.
“They had people with lineups when they gave out just a postcard of one of her paintings,” says Glavine.
Now, a major art gallery in the Chinese city of Guangzhou – a city that is home to more people than the province of Ontario and is located more than 12,000 kilometres from Nova Scotia - has committed to opening a Maud Lewis exhibit.
“We have a commitment from the Guangzhou Museum of Art - again, a very large city - within the year that we would have an exhibit,” confirms Glavine.
The agreement hasn’t been drawn up yet, but there’s a possibility both original and replica pieces will head to Guangzhou for an exhibit in 2019. Similar talks are also happening at a museum in Tokyo.
Interest in Lewis has also grown at home since the release of the film last year, and at a critical time for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which is hoping to find a new home in the near future. The art gallery is home to a permanent Maud Lewis exhibit, including her fully restored painted home.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in visitation,” says Colin Stinson, the art gallery’s director of marketing and visitor experience.
“We’ve seen interest from other countries, specifically ones in Asia, related to the Maud Lewis product that we’re selling online from our gift shop; visitation as well from the Asian market.”
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia says the number of visitors just about doubled last year, and numbers are strong this year too.
There is some talk of sending the original door from Lewis’ home to China, but Glavine says they haven’t signed on the dotted line just yet, and the details of the Chinese exhibit will be worked out in the coming months.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown