Artist Statement

My forays into art began with B&W photography; although my choice of media continues to change there is a continuity to my preoccupations: the role that memory, moments, and meaning play in our lives. The works in this exhibition are the result of my explorations of these interconnected themes over the past twelve years.

Memories allow us to make sense of the past, to live in the present, and to go forward into the future with a sense of continuity. “Memory” manifested in the natural world is geological or biological. Such “earth memories” exist as information passed on through cellular reproduction, the cyclical rhythm of the seasons, or in traces of things transpired: the erosion of rock by wind and surf, or the remains of a gull, seal, or whale whose bleached bones now lie strewn among the cobbles of a rocky beach.

Many of the encaustic paintings explore the “earth memory” motif, and some are informed by photography, whether by photographs I have taken or historic photos which are incorporated into them. In others, geometric designs play off one another; abstractions explore creative forces; playful, nature-inspired line drawings meander one across a beach; or mixed-media collages experiment with the grid as an aesthetic and organizational structure.

In the still-life photographs, and some encaustic paintings, I consider our relationship to the past using small found objects, old photographs, and family heirlooms, because I am fascinated with the meaning and memory associations that they become imbued with over time. Some compositions also consider how meaning is created by association and context, so I reuse objects in different compositions to invite closer examination and comparison. The macro and B&W photographs capture or create quiet, contemplative moments, while the digital montage photographs, surreal as they are, project slightly haunted memories, nostalgia, or loss.


MJ was born and raised in Kingston, ON, but spent childhood summers on Grand Manan Island where she has lived full time since 2007. Prior to moving east, MJ worked in administration at Queen’s University for 16 years. With a BA in English Literature from Mount Allison, a BFA from NSCAD, and a BEd from UNB Fredericton, she is presently a part-time high school teacher and the Curator/Director of the Grand Manan Museum.

MJ lives in a tall house overlooking Whale Cove with her poet husband, Wayne Clifford, two black cats and a wire-haired pointing griffon dog. Daily beachcombing walks, ocean vistas, rugged cliffs, and summer gardens provide ongoing sources of artistic inspiration.

Her photography, paintings and ink drawings have been exhibited in libraries, museums and art galleries in Kingston, Halifax, Hampton, St. Andrews, and on Grand Manan. You can see her work at her Rocky Corner Studio on Grand Manan or online at her website:


Encaustic Painting

In encaustic painting, beeswax is the medium that carries the pigment, and damar resin is the hardening agent. An ancient process dating back to AD 110, it was used by a number of major artists in the 20th century and in the past several decades has undergone a resurgence of popularity among a wide variety of artists. Luminous and aromatic, it has great layering, transferring, collaging and sculptural possibilities. A challenging medium to work with, spontaneous decision-making can result in welcome surprises.

Wayne Clifford

Poet Wayne Clifford, husband of the artist and contributor to several pieces featured in this exhibition, won multiple Norma Epstein prizes for poetry and shared the E.J. Pratt Award with Michael Ondaatje during his undergraduate years at the University of Toronto. Clifford went on to complete an MA in linguistics and an MFA in Creative Writing at the internationally renowned Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Now retired from college professorship and living on Grand Manan in the house that he designed and built, Clifford has published 11 books of poetry and will soon be releasing the fourth and final volume of The Exile’s Papers (Porcupine’s Quill Press), an epic telling, in over eight hundred varied sonnets, of our time and temper.