St. John’s, a colourful place with colourful encounters: Laura Higenell’s Story
St. John’s is full of colourful characters; People who always have a story to tell. Laura Higenell, is one of those characters. I met with Laura when I first visited the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation. Her artistic, spirited personality exudes a passion for art and Newfoundland. I was surprised to discover that someone who was so passionate for this place wasn’t actually from here. That’s when I got curious. What drives someone to come here and hone their craft? Was there something special about this place that lured her? I had to learn more about her and I’m really glad that I did. Hers is a story I am eager to share.
Laura is a potter and ceramic artist who first encountered her craft a few years ago in St. John’s, NL. Hailing from Fonthill, Ontario, and always anticipating a new opportunity or adventure, Laura moved to St. John’s to experience the eastern edge of Canada and it’s laid back way of life. It was this slower, more relaxed pace in St. John’s that made Laura finally turn to a pottery class with the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. Growing up, Laura had a persistent artistic itch to find her creative outlet. She tried creative mediums like painting and graphic design but it wasn’t until her experience with pottery that she felt the void had been filled. After taking a few pottery classes and volunteering her time with the Craft Council, Laura, on persuasion from loved ones decided to take the Ceramic Certificate Program at the Haliburton School of The Arts in Haliburton, ON. ”It was at that time that I really thought once I finished the program, I would stay home in Ontario and open my own studio. But, while I was away from St. John’s, all I could talk about was how amazing it was. I was known at school for talking about Newfoundland and convincing everyone to come visit.” All of this talk made it pretty clear that there was something about St. John’s that was luring her back. “For me, Newfoundland represents a shift in my life. I was pushing for a career in commerce and tourism, but now, I’m an artist. This path I’ve found for myself, in St. John’s, is serendipity.”
St. John’s is the right place to start as an emerging artist
“I’ve never been more confident about being in the right place at the right time in my life. ”With a massive wave of support from family, friends, and the local arts community, Laura feels that St. John’s is a great place to start for an emerging artist. Although small in population, St. John’s famous AIC area code has one of the highest concentrations of artists per capita in Canada. It’s the tight knit community of artists and their support that create an incubator for artists to thrive.
When I asked Laura what living in St. John’s meant for her in terms of artistic growth, she insisted that Newfoundland had a profound impact on her craft. She recalled a project in her program where each individual had to create a 20-photo collage. “My photos were all waves and water. Calm forms. I was drawing on my life in Newfoundland. My work is very much about place and the comfort I have with that place.”
Laura’s passion for ceramics is driven from an emotional connection – a sensual love affair that she has with clay due to the uncommon contact there is between artist and medium. Inspired by the natural beauty of Newfoundland, her work speaks of both the island’s physical elements and the genuine people. “It’s the water, the ocean, the flora/fauna, the humor, and the music of Newfoundland that inspire me. Whenever someone walks by the copper teapot I have on display at the Plantation they smile or laugh. I want to evoke the whimsical and light hearted way of life that I have found here.”
With her current studio placement at Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, and endless possibilities in her future, there is no doubt that Laura’s artistic journey in Newfoundland has just begun. I can’t wait to hear about her next chapter.
To find out more about Laura, feel free to visit her at the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation to purchase her work and to see the happy copper teapot she mentioned above.
Know someone who should be featured as a ‘Colourful Character’? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org