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Newly discovered painting and new film add to the resurgence of Nova Scotia Folk Art icon Maud Lewis
The iconic Maud Lewis Painted House which lives in the Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Photo: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

HALIFAX, NS.- Well known British actor Sally Hawkins is turning heads and creating Oscar buzz for her portrayal of Maud Lewis, the iconic Nova Scotia folk artist whose life and work is one of the most compelling stories in Canadian art history. Hawkins, together with actor Ethan Hawke, star in the film Maudie, which opens in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax on April 14.

A Newfoundland-Irish co-production, Maudie tells the story of Maud Lewis and her marriage to itinerant fish peddler Everett Lewis. Maud, who suffered from severe physical limitations, went on to become one of Canada’s most recognized and best-loved folk artists. The house she moved into after marrying Everett in 1938 was one of her earliest and most stunning canvases. The tiny house, which features prominently in the film, is the star attraction at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Maud Lewis Gallery. The house and much of its original contents are on display along with the largest public collection of Maud Lewis art work in the world.

“Until you see Maud’s house in person it’s impossible to imagine how appalling her living conditions were,” says Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Director and CEO Nancy Noble. “And when you add her physical disabilities into the mix, it’s remarkable that she was able to paint at all let alone such colourful, joyful and animated works of art. Her story is magical.”

The film’s release comes on the heels of a remarkable discovery at the Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in New Hamburg, Ontario. At the bottom of a donation bin, an employee found what has now been authenticated as an original Maud Lewis artwork.

The canvas, Portrait of Eddie Barnes and Ed Murphy, Lobster Fishermen, Bay View, N.S., is a rare find. It measures 11” x 13” and has generated interest from around the world. It is estimated to be worth $12,000 - $16,000 and it will be auctioned off by the Mennonite Central Committee. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will be displaying the painting in the Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery from April 11-16. Also on display are a collection of photographs taken during the shooting of Maudie, and costumes worn by both Hawkins and Hawke.

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