Monday, December 21, 2009

Hindon Painted Parlour

About a month ago I received a phone call from one of the long standing members of the Annapolis Heritage Society. In a very excited tone of voice he told me that a painted room had been discovered in Lequille. Now, those of you who are unfamiliar with the history of painted rooms in the Annapolis Royal region may not understand why my caller was so excited. Our area is home to a handful of these interior painted surfaces. The images in all of these rooms are painted directly onto the plaster. In the Annapolis Royal region decoratively painted rooms have been found in the Hillsdale House, Sinclair Inn Museum and at a location in Bear River. The most ambitious, and most controversial, painted room in our area was located in the Croscup House in Karsdale. This painting, which has been called the finest piece of pre-confederation Canadian art, was removed from its original location in the the 1970s and taken to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Understandably, there was some local controversy and discontent when the Croscup parlour was removed. After considerable conservation work by the Canadian Conservation Institute, the Croscup Room was installed as a permanent exhibit at the Gallery. With this as the backdrop, in Annapolis Royal a painted room is an exciting discovery.

The room which was recently discovered is located in the front parlour of the Hindon House in Lequille. This house was built in 1862 by Sea Captian Alonzo Hindon. It is doubtful that anyone within living memory knew about the decorative painting since the new owners of the house discovered the image under 10 - 12 layers of wallpaper. As you can see from the images, the image in this room is a series of repeated Gothic arches. This is quite different than the landscapes and portraits of the Croscup Room and the floral design of the Hillsdale House. The unknown artist evidently knew what they were doing since the arches are fairly delicately shaded.

Sadly, by the time I was notified of the existence of the room it was a matter of quickly documenting the images before they were gone. The second visit I made to the house was with a representative of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia who have created an impressive database of painted rooms in the province. Since there are ways to mothball this sort of room I was hoping that this room may have been a candidate. Unfortunately, it was his feeling that too much damage had been done to the images. As a note to anyone else who happens to find one of these rooms, please get in touch with someone early on in the process.

As part of the documentary process, I made a short video which has been posted on YouTube. There is no narration in the video but it gives a good look at the room.

All for now,

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