Nova Scotia·Video

Maud Lewis's home inspires visitors at Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

The tiny home of the renowned Nova Scotia folk artist was saved in 1984 and sits in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, where it continues to inspire visitors.

She created art to create joy — and to pay the bills

Celebrating Maud Lewis

6 years ago
1:03
Maud Lewis's art warms hearts 46 years after her passing. 1:03

When Shannon Parker was a girl growing up in Digby County, N.S., she and her mother often drove past Maud Lewis's home. 

It was in the early 1980s and the tiny, art-strewn home stood in disrepair. Lewis, a renowned folk artist, died in 1970 and her husband Everett passed in 1979.

It didn't seem like the house — which Lewis had turned into a work of art — would survive. 

As a child, Shannon Parker passed Maud Lewis's house once in a while. Today, she sees it every day at work. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

But in 1984, the province of Nova Scotia bought the home. It was restored and now sits in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.  

The Lewis family home fits nicely inside the Halifax art gallery. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Today, Parker is the curator of collections at the gallery and sees the house more often than she did as a child.

Her home inspires visitors at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Lewis's house is a work of art. Beautiful cheerful paintings cover the home.

She loved to paint — creating art created joy. 

Everything Lewis touched grew more beautiful. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)
The artist in residence: Maud Lewis poses with one of her paintings in front of her home. (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)

Lewis, born in South Ohio, N.S., in 1903, painted the seasons and traditions of Digby County. She spent much of her childhood alone — she suffered from birth defects and felt self-conscious around others. 

Working oxen, like this pair illustrated by Nova Scotia artist Maude Lewis, couldn't be retrained to obey the new rule of the road in Lunenburg. (Courtesy Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)

Initially, Lewis painted Christmas cards. Later, people would visit her house in Marshalltown and buy her paintings. Her worsening arthritis prevented her from doing housework, so her husband did that while she earned money selling her paintings. 

The little house had no electricity or plumbing, but it made up for that with art. 

Many of her paintings captured Nova Scotia's shore. (Courtesy Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)

Parker says she enjoys talking with patrons who have met Lewis. They say she was shy, but had a beautiful smile. She is remembered for her joyful spirit and that lives on in her paintings

Maud Lewis works on a painting in her home. (Courtesy Art Gallery of Nova Scotia)

This vintage CBC clip features an interview with Lewis in 1965. 

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