After Nova Scotia artist Anna Horsnell Wade accompanied her husband, Bruce, chief engineer of the marine tanker Sarah Desgagnés on two voyages, her perspective, insight and respect for the ocean forever deepened. Her commitment to share her experience with others has led to The Sarah Diaries Project, which includes a collection of original paintings, a book, and the establishment of a new Marine Officer’s Scholarship at the Nautical Institute in Port Hawkesbury.
Horsnell Wade’s two sea adventures were from Halifax Harbour to Québec City, crossing through the heaviest ice in decades on the Gulf of St Lawrence, then on to Sydney, Cornerbrook, NL and back to Sydney in February 2014, with a subsequent voyage on the St. Lawrence Seaway that October. She enjoyed relative freedom on board to explore the ship from the Bridge to the Engine Room, to watch the officers and crew at work, to hear their stories, and to personally experience life on the open waves.
The opportunity to capture the ruggedness and intensity of life at sea through written word and painted images was challenging and all encompassing for this established artist. She has painted for over 35 years, but the distinct sights and sounds presented aboard ship allowed her to uniquely merge her career as a visual artist with her husband’s career at sea.
“The Sarah Desgagnés was a muse unlike any I had ever known, said Horsnell Wade. “She turned my usual painting style on its head. I decided on a more representative style using sturdy wood panels to carve heavily textured surfaces. I focused on the details; grouping multiple panels for a collage of each area on the ship, and the landscape surrounding her. My intent was to share all those things that were the essence of the Sarah and to highlight the world of the merchant mariner and to honour all those I met on the Sarah. I also thought it was important to share my experience with others who might never go to sea. I hope to encourage consideration of the many career opportunities available in this vast and varied industry that spans the globe.”
On Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m., the Truro Art Society will host the opening of Horsnell Wade’s exhibit “The Sarah Diaries” at the McCarthy Gallery in the library of the Truro NSCC. This exhibit provides the public with a unique over-view of the merchant marine industry. Through a series of paintings and an accompanying book documenting her time at sea, the artist will speak about her project and answer questions, as well as do book signings.
Horsnell Wade hopes her book,” The Sarah Diaries ~ my travels at sea as artist and wife of a merchant mariner” and her paintings will pay tribute to merchant mariners and their families and be informative for non-mariners. She also hopes this exhibit will raise awareness that Nova Scotia urgently needs marine officers, engineers, navigators and deckhands. Half of the proceeds from both painting and book sales go to funding the Marine Officer’s Scholarship at the NSCC’s Nautical Institute in Port Hawkesbury.
“This is my way of honouring merchant seafarers, past, present and future, and I sincerely thank all those who support this goal,” expressed Horsnell Wade.
Opening night provides a wonderful opportunity to meet this immensely talented and generous Nova Scotian in person and all are welcome to attend. “The Sarah Dairies” will be on exhibit at the McCarthy Gallery until Feb. 24, 2017.