Ben Ploughman is a folk artist from Port au Choix, Newfoundland. He works in wood including recycled driftwood laths to tell stories about Newfoundland and its people.
Last summer I traveled in Newfoundland and Labrador with two friends. One of our favourite activities was looking for icebergs, and here’s one that we saw off the coast of Red Bay, Labrador.
Later we stopped by Ben Ploughman’s studio, but unfortunately it was after hours and he wasn’t there. Some of his work was displayed outdoors, including this wonderful piece, “Great Big Empty Sea.” I totally identified with these iceberg=gazers, and I was glad that the artist had depicted local people. To me, it meant that the thrill of seeing the icebergs doesn’t wear off even when you see them all your life.
I looked up Ben’s website when I returned home. He writes, “The inspiration for my work often comes from a response to critical and crucial events in Newfoundland such as the collapse of the Atlantic cod fishery, a rapid decline in rural population and lack of meaningful employment. Therefore my style and subject matter is strongly influenced by my surroundings in this little corner of the world, rural outport Newfoundland. I consider myself a contemporary self-taught artist just keeping track of what’s going on around me and in the process helping to preserve a piece of our past for future generations.”
Another piece of Ben’s that caught my fancy, since I’m a quiltmaker, is “Homemade Quilts.” This mixed-media piece of made of wood except for the quilts, which are knitted.
You can see Ben’s work in the spring issue of the Canadian art and architecture magazine Arabella in the section “Artists to Collect.” Better yet, visit Newfoundland and meet him in person.