Thornhill Verma’s oil landscapes are an ode to the coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador where she grew up and still considers home. Downhome, as locals call it, has endless seascapes that nook and cranny, dip and bob, pleasing to the heart, mind and soul. Atop the rocks of this place, in its own timezone and on the eastern edge of North America, are saltbox houses, fishing stages and community wharfs. Below the deep blue rug, are the marine life that lured settlers here for a life in the east coast fishery.
When people visit Newfoundland and Labrador these days, they come to experience a way of life—a life that, if not preserved through paintings and other art-forms, could be lost forever. Almost as soon as they arrived, people were leaving the outports and the fishery too. Thornhill Verma’s first book, “Cod Collapse: The Rise and Fall of Newfoundland’s Saltwater Cowboys” covers this story—delving into what happened to Newfoundlanders like her own family after the region’s primary industry closed overnight, shutting down community wharves and shuttering entire communities (even today).
That was a quarter of a century ago, and yet, this place, while still living that legacy, still pops with colour—a vibrancy visible in Thornhill Verma’s paintings. The fishery remains active too, yet no fish species are anywhere near their historical levels of abundance. This show is the artist’s first solo art exhibit. And yet, her paintings appear on the cover of her new book, released October-November 2019, as well as in magazines such as Atlantic Books Today and Newfoundland Quarterly.