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Back Harbour artist hopes to raise climate change awareness with latest piece

Twillingate-born painter Daniel Anstey has been working as a full-time artist for the past nine years. His latest series of paintings will put a central focus on climate change awareness – and how it will affect Newfoundland and Labrador.
Twillingate-born painter Daniel Anstey has been working as a full-time artist for the past nine years. His latest series of paintings will put a central focus on climate change awareness – and how it will affect Newfoundland and Labrador. - Contributed

Daniel Anstey is using his precise artistic talents to show how climate change will affect Newfoundland and Labrador.
The first in this painter’s new series is an abstract display of Atlantic puffins swarming across an ocean of rapidly moving icebergs. The piece is titled “Puffins Calling,” and features 59 puffins to match the artist’s age.
“It’s to make awareness of climate change around the world but especially how it affects our area and the Atlantic puffins,” Anstey said. “Because of the warmer waters, they have to travel north now and find new nesting grounds. Whether they find these new areas or not remains to be seen.”
Anstey has worked on eight-foot by four-foot piece for the past four months. With nearly 100 other paintings, he says it’s one of his best pieces yet.
Born in the scenic Twillingate Island coastline of Back Harbour, Anstey took an early interest in painting. The setting of his home community provided an easy muse for recreating the world through his paint brush.
While he’s worked at the craft since he was a teenager, it’s only in the past nine years Anstey has taken the plunge into working as a full-time painter.
“I wanted to be an artist when I was 14 or 15, but in our generation it wasn’t a thing you felt you could do to make a living,” he said. “It took many years to get back on the track of what I really wanted to do.
“I never really took the paint brush down, but now I do it all the time – I live and breathe painting.”
Anstey says what he enjoys most about painting is seeing his paintings invoke a response in others. With the climate change-focus of his new series, he hopes these new paintings will particularly resonate with those who come in contact with them.

Door-to-door
Anstey had a gallery for two years in Twillingate, but is now living in St. John’s. Since being there, Anstey is known in the Avalon area for taking his vehicle around neighbourhoods and sharing his paintings with people door-to-door.
For the artist, this travelling artist-style business model has proved successful so far.
“The hardest part of being an artist is finding a venue to display your work,” said Anstey. “I’m a people person and I wanted to try something different, so I took this route.”
However, with the Twillingate area being reinvented as a flourishing tourist destination, the love of art in that area has also grown exponentially since Anstey left home. He hopes to return with a greater prominence next summer, hosting a two-week showing in Back Harbour during the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival.
“It’s amazing to see how art has flourished in the Twillingate area. After I left it seems like art has taken off out there,” he said. “My work’s been much better received this year than in the past, and a lot of businesses around town display my work now.”
Anstey is now at work on his second piece for the climate change series. This one will focus on gannets, the diving seabird commonly seen along the province’s coasts.

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