Molly Margaret’s Micro-process for Mini Homes | Flora May
Molly Margaret’s practice celebrates the environment around her. As a downtown local, it’s no surprise she would turn to the unique appearance and architectural identity of St. John’s as a muse.
Buildings are deemed worthy of protection by municipal, provincial, and federal bodies. Others are culturally noteworthy for their histories with figures such as politicians, inventors – even visits from the Royal Family. What does an artist make of all this?
Margaret is a multidisciplinary maker, skilled at layering textures and colours through her work with embroidery, papercutting, and painting. These skills led Margaret to collect homes and businesses which are rich in detail, emotion, expression, and community value. Lottie’s Place definitely does not meet historic designation criteria, but I couldn’t hide my smile upon seeing it memorialized in gouache on a gallery wall.
The stars of St. John’s architecture, lined dutifully along the walls of Eastern Edge, captured thousands of memories in a single moment. For those of us who walk our paths downtown religiously, the homes and businesses blanketed the room in joy and nostalgia. There is something intrinsically satisfying and humbling about viewing your world – all our worlds – all at once.
Molly is able to capture all of this in her miniature paintings. Armed with photographs, she uses her iPad screen as a tiny lightbox and begins painting with a fine detail brush. It seems to stand in the face of downtown St. John’s now decades of obsession with large-scale development.
The aging of buildings is recognized in these paintings. Minute details like an overgrown shrub or a fading paint job, reference a time and place which is both here and there – still present, standing, but already past. What began as an experimental “pandemic project”, the sheer volume of histories represented in 100 houses becomes a study in the present state of the city – the physical reality of 2021.
Amidst Covid-19 restrictions, Margaret said the crowd of visitors still flocked to trade neighbourhood histories, long-forgotten tales, and to chat about unconventional structural components. The unexpected chatter was a happy surprise for Molly Margaret, who says community building is all part of the “magic of St. John’s”. Visually and conceptually, 100 Mini Houses; A Downtown Exploration, celebrates the facades of buildings that represent community monuments and the folks behind them.
Flora May is an Inuk artist and educator residing in Toronto, Ontario. She received her Diploma in Textile Arts from College of the North Atlantic (St. John’s, Newfoundland) and is currently pursuing her Honours Bachelor of Craft and Design Furniture at Sheridan College. Her work is informed by skills learned at home in NunatuKavut territory, Labrador. Flora leads youth programming ranging from sewing to watercolour, and aims to produce work while promising safe and accessible spaces for Indigenous youth to create and enjoy art.
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