By: Amy Cleary
Visual artist Dawn Baker visits Fogo, showcasing how the most valuable commodities of any place go well beyond the scenery
Dawn Baker is a visual artist and an admitted child enthusiast. She’d have to be considering she’s been a children’s book author and illustrator since 1992.
It’s Baker’s love of Newfoundland that dominates in her creations from books like A Newfoundland Year, A Newfoundland Christmas and Saltwater Joys. Her newest book Fogo: My Favourite Corner of the Earth, is no exception.
The book was created because she wanted to incorporate the residency and create a children’s story, she explains.
The residency was started by the Shorefast foundation in 2008 and is one of their major projects, along with the Fogo Island Inn. The purpose of the residency is to showcase the talent that is available on Fogo and established artists from around the globe who would like to visit the area.
“I met Zita Cobb and it got me thinking about Fogo. Just knowing her and hearing her talking about the Inn, it was either being built or just finished, and she was so excited about the residency program. So I think, because I had such a personal connection, Fogo really fit,” says Baker.
Baker considered how best to blend the beauty of Fogo, her residency, and a children’s story into a piece of work. She was able to do that with flare, and Fogo: My favourite Corner of the Earth was the result.
The book is about a young boy named Keith who is living on the beautiful island of Fogo. He meets a family friend who is visiting and that friendship allows him to see how beautiful his hometown is through someone else’s eyes.
Baker’s talent as a visual artist explodes on the pages, and shows children and adults alike how beautiful Fogo really is as she brings to life places like Bleak House – which is an example of a historic merchant dwelling and has been made into a public museum since 1988.
She even includes unique artistic work places like Squish Studio, which was designed by Newfoundland born architect Todd Saunders. Many Newfoundland based artists and singers have used his creation as a place for inspiration.
As this writer can attest, this book is a thrill for children and adults alike and will make you fall in love with Newfoundland all over again.
Baker says she hopes the message she hoped to get across is clear.
“Although the place is beautiful, the most important thing is that the people, especially the children, are more important than buildings and programs and even fabulous scenery. It is the people. I hope that’s something people take away; that the most inspirational thing in any place is still the people.”