The Grumpy Goat Gallery

I met Pam and Cara like I meet most of my friends: Google Image Search. I was looking for a picture of the devil. More precisely, I was looking for a picture of the late artist who sold self portraits depicting himself as the devil on Prague’s Saint Charles Bridge. But that’s a different (and darker) story.

This story is about the Grumpy Goat Gallery. A sucker for alliteration, by the time I read the name of this Newfoundland gallery, I was already a fan. But the more I explored the gallery’s blog and looked at Pam and Cara’s work, the more their work set off my “Wow” switch.

Their creations do for me what I think most artists strive for: I felt like I had seen them somewhere before. Since I had NOT seen their art before, it meant that they succeeded in (and I apologize in advance for this) expressing universal abstractions that I agreed with on a primal level before my conscious mind could ask “What is it about this art that makes you feel at home?”

Before I get all Freudian, I’ll let Pam and Cara, founding artists of The Grumpy Goat Gallery take it from here:

 

Grilling The Grumpy Goat Gallery

 

Rabble Rouse The World: How did the idea to open the Grumpy Goat Gallery come about?

Pam & Cara: When we moved from St. John’s to our small seaside cottage about an hour away from town we hadn’t thought about having a gallery. At that time, we were supplying stores and small galleries on the island with our work but people started coming by, and eventually we had to add on a gallery space to our home. We’ve since grown every year and just built a studio in the back garden garden. Why the “Grumpy Goat”? All of my life, I wanted a goat, and Pam used to call me a Grumpy Goat when I was cranky. Last year, I finally DID get my goat….a tiny pygmy called Rose. She only gets grumpy if we forget to give her her daily prune.

RRTW: I think most artists will agree that atmosphere affects the type of art produced. How do you think living with “four cats, one dog, and a little, old man” on an island manifested itself in the art you are produced?

P&C: Almost all of our work is born from our surroundings. The architecture on the island, the culture, the weather and the way of life here is all reflected in our creations. Our family of cats, dog, goat and neighbors all play an important role in what we do and how we see our world. Also, Pam grew up in a very tiny, rural fishing community and her Poppy was a fisherman, sealer and carpenter. There were ten children in the family and they had a very hard life. Many of our sculptures and pieces are based on her Nanny and Poppy Dorey.

RRTW: One consistent theme that seems to run throughout your blog happiness, or maybe a better set of words would be, “unbridled bliss”. Does living on an island ever feel lonely and isolating?  Doesn’t the “best” art arise from conflict and tension?

Cara: Living on an island in the North Atlantic could certainly feel isolating and lonely if you let it get to you. Fortunately, some of my favourite days are the darkest, windiest, stormiest of the winter. There is great beauty in the starkness and I enjoy the internal fight I have not to give in to it. This place makes me find my joy as I matter of survival. I actually paint most of my huge, “happy summer sky” oil paintings in the dead  winter, on the darkest of days.

RRTW: Do both of you have a piece that you feel encapsulates your mission as an artist? (If so, please expound)

Cara: A painting I did a few years ago called “Rise”. I started painting it on one of the worst days of my life and it turned out to be the happiest, most joyful expressions of colour and light I have done so far. It made me realize how creativity can grow from the darkest of places.

Pam:We made a sculpture ‘The Sealers Song’, which was based largely on the experience of my grandfather.  He had the great responsibility of feeding and providing for a wife and 10 children.  One of his many jobs was sealing.

I know that there has often been, and continues to be, much controversy surrounding the seal hunt.  That said, in my grandfather’s day, he hunted for seal and would then trade the pelts with Norwegian sailors for flour, sugar and other necessary provisions to aid in surviving the upcoming winters (He would also use the remainder of the seal for food and oil).

The sculpture we made shows the sealers crammed into a boat, heading out to the ice with looks of resignation on their faces.  Sealing was never an easy task and many men lost their lives on the ice, so for a young man to risk his own for the sake of his family was, in my opinion, a very brave thing for the men to do and I was pleased to be able to create a piece that represents a piece of my grandfathers journey.

RRTW:  You are two artists working in the same space, what work of your partner in crime captivates you the most and why? 

Cara: I am amazed at Pam’s ability to capture character and movement in her carving. We did a very serious piece a while back that included dozens of carved sailors sailing out to sea. Pam was bale to capture such deep emotion on their faces with very minimal carving. A stunning work, in my opinion.

Pam: Cara sometimes pulls out a giant canvas, sets it on her easel and starts to paint without having the slightest notion of what she is about to paint.  I am always so surprised and delighted to see such vibrant colour and character spring out of what, only hours before, was a blank canvas leaning up against a wall.

RRTW: How does having another artist in the studio affect the work that you do? 

P&C: Well, we collaborate in most sculptures and carvings so it is important that we get along. The worst thing is trying to agree on music and the room temperature so we usually take hour long turns and tolerate the others musical choices.

RRTW: What work do you feel encapsulates your mission as an artist? 

Cara: A painting I did a few years ago called “Rise”. I started painting it on one of the worst days of my life and it turned out to be the happiest, most joyful expressions of colour and light I have done so far. It made me realize how creativity can grow from the darkest of places.

Pam: We made a sculpture ‘The Sealers Song’, which was based largely on the experience of my grandfather.  He had the great responsibility of feeding and providing for a wife and 10 children.  One of his many jobs was sealing.  I know that there has often been, and continues to be, much controversy surrounding the seal hunt.  That said, in my grandfather’s day, he hunted for seal and would then trade the pelts with Norwegian sailors for flour, sugar and other necessary provisions to aid in surviving the upcoming winters.  (He would also use the remainder of the seal for food and oil)  The sculpture we made shows the sealers crammed into a boat, heading out to the ice with looks of resignation on their faces.  Sealing was never an easy task and many men lost their lives on the ice, so for a young man to risk his own for the sake of his family was, in my opinion, a very brave thing for the men to do and I was pleased to be able to create a piece that represents a piece of my grandfathers journey.

RRTW: You are two artists working in the same space, what work of your partner in crime captivates you the most and why?

Cara: I am amazed at Pam’s ability to capture character and movement in her carving. We did a very serious piece a while back that included dozens of carved sailors sailing out to sea. Pam was bale to capture such deep emotion on their faces with very minimal carving. A stunning work, in my opinion.


Pam:
Cara sometimes pulls out a giant canvas, sets it on her easel and starts to paint without having the slightest notion of what she is about to paint.  I am always so surprised and delighted to see such vibrant colour and character spring out of what, only hours before, was a blank canvas leaning up against a wall.

RRTW: How does having another artist in the studio affect the work that you do?

P&C: Well, we collaborate in most sculptures and carvings so it is important that we get along. The worst thing is trying to agree on music and the room temperature so we usually take hour long turns and tolerate the others musical choices.


  • Yvonne

    Just LOVE Cara and Pam’ work … so glad to see the happiness it creates spreading so far and wide.
    !

    • Lukespartacus

      Thanks Yvonne, they are two very talented ladies who are giving a great gift to the world.