Learning to see in a Newfoundland outport

Unscripted Festival. Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging

Twillingate, Newfoundland

Twillingate Unscripted Festival makes magic happen on the coast of Newfoundland

THE SEA IS A moving thing. Just now, outside my window in Twillingate, it’s steel grey with snow-white edging. The horizon blurs softly against the dove grey sky, while the jagged dark rock of the Newfoundland coastline breaks into the ocean like a ship plowing through ice. The wind howls, the rain lashes and streaks of light pick up the mossy green of the hill opposite. The sea surrounds and encompasses this island, and inside too, in the Iceberg Alley Bed and Breakfast, the folks talk about the sea and the industry that depends on it, the fishery.

I’m here in Newfoundland for the first time as a guest of the first annual Twillingate Unscripted Digital Arts Festival. The festival brought together a variety of digital artists and explorers, from photographers and filmmakers to outdoor adventurers and ipad illustrators. And me, representing travel blogging. I’m giving a presentation about my travel blogging career, and teaching a three-hour workshop on blogging.

Unscripted Festival, Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging

Twillingate, Newfoundland

My experience has confirmed my feeling that the Unscripted Festival was a stroke of genius. It brought together creative people in a picturesque and inspiring spot — a Newfoundland outport known for scenic beauty and the towering icebergs that float past in late spring and early summer.

It’s my first time here in Newfoundland, the Canadian province known as “The Rock” for reasons that quickly become obvious. A rocky island that thrusts eastward into the North Atlantic ocean, Newfoundland’s unique landscape and culture is formed by remoteness, rough weather, and dependence on the sea.

Unscripted Festival. Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging

Twillingate, Newfoundland

This morning at breakfast, my hostess Thelma talks in a thick Newfoundland accent — like an Irish brogue coated in molasses and spiked with salt — about the tragedy of the cod, and the farce of the seal protesters. Someone remarks they’re yarnin’ — they’re spinning yarns — which seems to be the favourite local past time. It’s a joy to listen to.

Listening to the locals talk in their distinctive style, about the issues they care about, has been one of the highlights of being here, and makes me wish I could stay longer and listen to the stories, and go out on a fishing boat, and find out what makes hearts beat in this place.

Another highlight was a day-long workshop with renowned local photographer Dennis Minty and his talented wife Antje, learning to see this landscape. We spent the morning at the Anchor Inn Hotel and Suites in Twillingate — the central hub for the Unscripted Festival — learning the basics of photography and then went out into the wind and sunshine on a photography walk. We didn’t have to walk far to find scenic beauty, just across the street and down a lane to the outer coast.

Unscripted Festival. Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging

Twillingate, Newfoundland

Here we practised applying the tips we learned about colour and composition, lines and lights, as we tried to capture the natural beauty and cultural whimsy of Twillingate. Afterwards, we trooped back to the Anchor Inn where I ate a bowl of fresh fish chowder for lunch, followed by a hands-on session in choosing and editing the photos we took.

Unscripted Festival. Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging, Mariellen Ward

Photo of me in action by Jim Hildebrand

This synergy, to me, is the essence of the Unscripted Festival and the genius. Our work was inspired by the locality and created onsite with the help of a talented and generous presenter — and I learned to see this unique place with new eyes and new photographic appreciation.

In talking with Wilma Hartmann, one of the festival organizers, I know this was the magic she was hoping to spark: The magic of the unscripted moment among inspiring people in a picturesque setting. Genius.

Many thanks to the Festival

My sincere thanks to Deborah, Wilma, Tara and Glenda of the Unscripted Twillingate Digital Arts Festival for inviting me to be part of this very special event; and many thanks to all the volunteers, my fellow presenters, the participants, Thelma and Fanie of the gorgeous Iceberg Alley B&B … and especially the blogging workshop participants who helped me publish this blog DURING the workshop: Tara, Mary, Linda, Carol, Caroline, Brenda, Jim, Jean, Derek, Nina, Rosemary. A live Unscripted Twillingate – Digital Arts Festival production.

Unscripted Festival. Twillingate, Newfoundland, digital, arts, sea, ocean, rock, travel, photography, blogging

Twillingate, Newfoundland

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7 Responses to Learning to see in a Newfoundland outport

  1. Wilma September 27, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    Thank you for this lovely blog post and for inspiring others to create their own blogs during the Unscripted Twillingate Digital Arts Festival!

  2. Kim Lear September 28, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I love this, “my hostess Thelma talks in a thick Newfoundland accent — like an Irish brogue coated in molasses and spiked with salt ” what a beautiful, spot on description. Instantly, I’m craving Toutons and molasses, moose soup and a deck with a view of the ocean. Twillingate is such special place.

  3. Izy Berry October 14, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    This place is beautiful !! you have a great experience

  4. Travelerette October 17, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    What gorgeous photos! Canada is one of my favorite countries, and now I am dying to try Newfoundland.
    Travelerette recently posted..Approximately Twenty Five of the Best Frozen Desserts of the WorldMy Profile

  5. Martin Parker October 22, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Lovely post Mariellen. Really like the poetic flow of the opening paragraph and the images of Twillingate which perfectly complement each other.
    Martin Parker recently posted..St. Lucia Segway Nature TrailMy Profile

  6. Anup Agrawal October 30, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    What an awesome way of presenting one’s experience! Lovely post! I was really not aware about Newfoundland and its beauty. You have captured it beautifully in your clicks. Thanks for sharing the post. This place added to my bucket list!
    Anup Agrawal recently posted..Crowne Plaza Chengdu Panda Garden Hotel ChinaMy Profile

  7. Thelma March 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    Thank you Mariellen for the lovely mention & beautiful blog. It was a pleasure meeting you.

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