ED ROCHE: Newfoundland Art
For more than three decades internationally acclaimed Newfoundland artist Ed Roche has created extraordinary masterpieces that stir the senses and evoke a range of memories and emotions.
Growing up in the picturesque seaside community of Middle Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ed’s days were filled with wonderful opportunities to explore his incredible surroundings. Rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, sapphire blue waters, and emerald green meadows became his playground by day while his evenings were filled with delightful retellings of stories of long ago recounting the rich history and traditions of his island heritage. Such experiences became the backdrop for a future filled with a deep appreciation of time and place and a keen desire to record and recreate his observations.
From an early age, Ed possessed a natural talent for drawing. He was acknowledged as the school artist and spent many hours creating work for school functions. As this caused him to miss many a recess and opportunities to be involved in sports, his zest for drawing waned during adolescence. Luckily, some years later happenstance intervened, and a severe snowstorm kept him housebound at his niece’s for several days. Fortunately, he discovered a set of watercolors she had received one Christmas, began painting to relieve the boredom, and his passion for art was reignited.
As Ed moved from university to the world of work as a recreation specialist for the province, traveling to hundreds of communities provided him with the opportunity to become intimately acquainted with the people, geography, history, and cultural traditions of each area. He observed firsthand the emergence of new communities and the fading away of others. His camera was always ready to record spectacular vistas and daily routine: the bustle of a busy harbour, the glow from a church window on a frosty winter evening, brilliant sunsets in charming coves, or light streaming through the window of an old abandoned school.
A keen desire to share such experiences quickly emerged, and his artwork became the vehicle. As this solitary life consisted of many evenings in hotels, he would often fill the time by creating stunning images of places he had seen with watercolors or ink that was diluted to provide a range of values for his detailed drawings. Ed continued to experiment with different media but eventually found that acrylics provided the vibrancy that is so characteristic of his exquisite, unmistakable style.
He was instrumental in the formation of Realist Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997, which is an organization that supports the professional development of its members through travel, workshops, special projects, and newsletters as well as recognizing their accomplishments through a series of awards. He feels that validation and striving for excellence are key components to growth as an artist.
The tapestry of Ed Roche’s life is a composition of threads rich in color and texture, and his artwork is reflective of that. His life experiences bring an authenticity and vibrancy to his paintings. The viewer can easily slip into the scene and sense the surroundings, feel the wind on the tall spruce, smell the fish drying on a flake, taste the salt air, hear the cries of seagulls soaring overhead, or see the majesty of the changing autumn leaves. His subject matter enthralls by calling attention to the beauty and splendor of the province.
Each piece is a celebration of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and their unique heritage, culture, and traditions.
“You start with a blank canvas. And when you finish painting, the goal is to be left with an image you can walk into…you have to be able to recreate the energy of a community. And without that heart and soul, well, it’s just another painting.”