The Bridge

Fibre Installation
Alli Johnston
About This Event

Approximately 20 nautical miles north of Lewisporte in Newfoundland’s Notre Dame Bay lie two small islands called Exploits Islands. Once a bustling fishing outport with stores, schools, churches, sawmills, forges, and shipyards, over 600 people lived there year-round at its peak of European settlement in the 1870s. The community was resettled in the late 1960s and Exploits is now home to a group of “off-grid” seasonal residents in about 80 houses, including one where Alli Johnston is privileged to spend part of her summers. At their closest point, a deep, narrow tickle with a strong tidal current separates the two islands. Johnston can see and hear the water from her bedroom window. Known locally as “The Narrows,” a bridge spanned this 50-foot gap for 90 years, creating a vital physical connection between the two islands. The bridge was demolished in 1988 and not replaced. All that remains of it are tangles of rusty rebar where its footings once stood. Archival photos show the bridge was an integral part of life on Exploits, and its removal drastically changed the social fabric of the islands. Alli is intrigued by the bridge’s history. And by its absence. The bridge was Johnston’s collaborator in the creation of this work, which is made of silk fabric that she naturally dyed by wrapping it around the rusted remains of the bridge. She then screen printed it with archival photos and eco printed it with locally foraged plants. The resulting installation explores ideas of isolation, nostalgia, and how, what and who we remember. Alli gratefully acknowledges the financial support of ArtsNL.

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