JoEllen 2small JoEllen Brydon is fascinated by stories.  Capturing those stories in vibrant acrylics on canvas and board is her passion. 
    JoEllen is a long-time Mount Pleasant resident and a proud member of the Mount Pleasant Women’s Institute, which, she admits, she first joined because she sensed it would be a rich source of stories.  What she discovered was that the stories are ongoing.  The history and legacy of the Women’s Institute itself as an organization inspired JoEllen to help build on the strong foundation of the past and take a hand in sustaining a present.  And along the way, as together they organize their weekly Farmers Markets and host community dinners, JoEllen collects stories.
    These stories and many others are told in what JoEllen herself describes as ‘voluptious” landscapes:  overlapping rolling hills and skies alive with clouds.  Sometimes the story is introduced with a line of text incorporated into the scene.  With a folkloric style and a vast pallet of colour, interiors are meticulously created and landscapes include the details of homes and barns, livestock and lost items along the way.
    JoEllen has been exhibiting her work since 1985.  An installation that tells the forgotten story of a Peterborough man’s attempt to paddle the Atlantic is in the permanent collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and was first exhibited in what was once the Millbrook Gallery.  Other works by JoEllen are in the collection of the Art Bank of Canada, and in private collections throughout Canada, the United States and Ireland.  Locally, one of JoEllen’s paintings is on display at the Millbrook branch of the Cavan Monaghan Library.
    It is to Ireland that JoEllen is bound in May, to attend the opening of a solo show in Letterkenny.  And, to collect more stories!    Ireland is where JoEllen traces her family roots and where she has found an enthusiastic following.  She has had exhibitions in both Belfast and Letterkenny before and is represented there by agents who look forward to her latest work, en route now for the opening. 
    She will also have a solo show this year in North Bay, Ontario, of her series of paintings that tell the story, ‘Lost Histories:  The Gypsies of 1909’.  This collection has won JoEllen critical acclaim.  The paintings tell the story of of a group of Roma who, in 1909, travelled through this area.  Guided by Professor Keith Walden at Trent University, JoEllen researched and examined the Roma culture and the evidence  – the stories told – of that historic visit.  She also worked closely with the Roma community as she developed her series and the exhibition, and in particular with Roma professor and scholar Ronald Lee.
    JoEllen has won a number of awards including the Lincoln Alexander Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario Award of Excellence, and locally has been acknowledged with a Peterborough County Award of Recognition for leadership in the Arts here in our own community.

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