History

“The whole thing is based on an act of hubris on my part,” James

Baird, Foundation Director, has said of the Foundation’s

beginning. “I co-signed a loan for a couple of guys. They were

going to start a restaurant in the Cove. It didn’t work, they

buggered off, and I ended up with a mortgage on a building at the

end of the Earth.”

“What do you do with a building at the end of the Earth? You start

thinking what it’s got going for it. And the major thing the original

building had was an incredible view of the North Atlantic Ocean. I

thought visual artists would love the place.”

 

In the late 1980’s he was in Toronto where he saw a painting by

Nancy Kembry entitled Still Life: Fragmentation. He was so

haunted by it that he invited Nancy to visit Newfoundland. Nancy

arrived the following year with Marlowe, Milkweed and Ken (dog,

cat and husband). Ken and Nancy’s immediate enthusiasm for the

craggy coast of Pouch Cove and the admittedly extremely rough

facilities on offer prompted her to write about the place in an

independent artists newsletter in New York and it wasn’t long

before he was inundated with requests to visit.

“ I was not even aware of residency programs when I started.

As a consequence the program slowly evolved and grew as I

figured out what I was supposed to be doing.”

 

“ First there were applications, slides, letters of recommendation

etc. and no cost to the artist at all.” Then an application fee and a

small occupancy fee was initiated but it all involved too much

paperwork and the rejection of three artists for every one that

could could be hosted.”

“ Over time the formula that I found worked best was an invitation-

only system as it changed the dynamic. No rejections and

disappointment, only surprise and delight at being chosen.”

“ The request of a the donation of a mutually acceptable work of

art from the artist allows me to keep the place operating.”

“ The program changed my life and my family’s life in so many

ways. Not only introducing us to some fabulous people and

wonderful art, we have made lifelong connections with individuals

who became our best friends.”

“ With so many artists being hosted over decades we cannot keep

track of them all, but are always delighted when we come across

them in our travels.”

Baird operated first from a small property on the main road in the

Cove, then added a second operation in a Corner Brook on

Newfoundland's west coast, and in 2003 purchased the former

Pouch Cove Elementary school on Gruchy’s Hill in Pouch Cove

when the denominational school system was dismantled in the

province.

In 2019 the Foundation will have entirely renovated the

elementary school to provide brand new live/work studios to

artists.