Yarmouth promoting its Maud Lewis

Painted ‘houses’, fall festival draw attention to folk artist

John DeMings jdemings@digbycourier.ca
Published on June 7, 2014

A painted house, one of 11 in Yarmouth, drawing attention to the birthplace of folk artist Maud Lewis.


The Friends of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Western Branch Society have launched a ‘Maudified’ house project—11 miniature painted houses inspired by Maud Lewis—at various sites in Yarmouth.

“The purpose of the project,” says Wendy Majestic, vice-president of the Society and project coordinator, “is to draw attention to Maud’s amazing story, and to let the world know that her story starts here.

In a news release, Majestic said the society also wants to celebrate the artistic talent in the region, beautify the town and to raise funds for children’s programming at the art gallery.

“So it’s a many-sided affair.”

The project started in January with funding from local civic and corporate sponsors. Scores of volunteers assembled and primed the houses. Then 16 artists and nine students from Plymouth School applied their magic during the winter. The mini-houses were recently installed at various locations and will remain at their sites until they are auctioned off at Th’YARC, a local community theatre, on Sept. 14. (The students’ house is part of a raffle with the draw on the same date.)

The diminutive Maud met and married fish peddler Everett Lewis in 1938. The couple lived in a small house in Marshalltown outside Digby. With no plumbing or electricity, and despite the hardships and challenges she faced—including debilitating rheumatoid arthritis—Maud found joy through painting. Her art spilled over onto everything from dustpans and scallop shells, to the walls and windows of her home. 

In Yarmouth, many activities are planned during the summer and fall focused on Maud Lewis.

A Maud Lewis Homecoming exhibit is now at the AGNS Yarmouth location, including three documentaries about the late folk artist that can be viewed during opening hours. A self-guided tour of pinpointing the locations of the ‘Maudified’ houses is also available, and local author Sandra Phinney has published Maud Lewis and the Maudified House Project: The Story Starts Here, which will be launched at the AGNS (Yarmouth) on June 18.

Story circles are also planned, as well as a Maud Lewis Festival this fall.