“I would like to present our art as a way to show people just how beautiful, interesting, and curious the world around us is.”

October 2022

At a recent St John’s Farmers Market, one particular booth caught NQ’s eye. Our Curious Collections featured found objects and artifacts, seaglass and mermaid’s purses, whelk and periwinkle shells, curated by shape or type or palette, in frames or terrariums. There were bound packets of vintage cheques; white mice peeking from teacups. Intrigued, we posed some questions:

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Krista Elliott. I have lived in Newfoundland and Labrador just about all my life. I spent the majority of that time travelling and living across the island, so I have been fortunate enough to see all the varied wonders Newfoundland has to offer. I am an avid hiker and love spending as much time outside as possible, In addition to hiking I also like to spend time beachcombing, mudlarking (digging up old treasure, sometimes with and lots of times without the metal detector). I love exploring towns and places i have never been and have a huge interest in local geology and fossils.

How would you describe your “collections”?
As educational art. They are most definitely art and presented as such but they also help to educate people on the amazing things our province has to offer.

Where do you find your objects?
I find my treasures all across Newfoundland and Labrador. Beaches, trails, abandoned towns and spaces. Each collection takes months and months to collect. Newfoundland is such a varied island environment-wise that many things you might find in one area you just can’t find in others. So to make a varied collection it can take a lot of travel and searching.

How do you arrange them?
The collection arrangements vary. Sometimes I have an idea in my head of a theme, such as a color collection of pink items or maybe a certain shape, sometimes they can be all one subject, like wildflowers. But the specific items are chosen by feel. I guess I just pick items that feel like they should be together.

Those old cheques were found in from a box you acquired at an auction. Do such treasures often come your way?
Yes, I can’t say often but I have been pretty fortunate to find a fair amount of vintage and antique items through auctions, local sales, and just going out and looking. The key is knowing your local history. If you learn the history of an area you can find out where you are more likely to find items, such as old bottles or certain geology items, fossils, and other historical or environmental treasure. For example I recently researched an old local theatre; it has been closed down and grown over for at least 30 years. But through research I found the location; with some hunting my partner and I found the foundations to the buildings and through searching the area I came across actual movie film that was once used when the theater was running. These little pieces of film make a beautiful historical addition to our frame collections. Knowing the environment and history of the area is key to treasure hunting.

How did you become interested in taxidermy and how does it fit in with your other art- and craftmaking?
Taxidermy has always been part of my interests; as a child growing up in a hunting family, appreciating the beauty of the animals we brought home, rabbit, duck, fish, was commonplace. So extending that to artistic taxidermy was a natural progression. The taxidermy fits in perfectly with our collections. They go back to our original concept of educational art. Many people never get up and close with the creatures around us, so it provides an opportunity to learn and see and touch them. And they also offer me an artistic opportunity to add a little whimsy as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about what you do?
Right here in our backyard. Newfoundland is an amazing place to live with so many opportunities to see new things and have amazing adventures. I just hope our collections encourage people to go out and have some adventures of their own.

Our Curious Collections online store link is  https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/OurCuriousCollection

Q&A with Michelle Porter

BY NQ

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