Nathan Cann

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An undergraduate of Mount Allison, Nathan Cann spends his days as a maritime artist dabbling in new media, experimental printmaking and wandering the province in search of ideas to dissect. Current work focuses on the haunting of lands; the relentless industries keeping afloat Atlantic Canadian notions of heritage even if those intentions sometimes find themselves misguided. Nathan will be instructing workshops on monotype processes this fall at the Saint John Arts Centre.


My practice is honed upon on the haunting of land and/or what haunts said land, city or people. Be it the lofty Atlantic townhouses whose towering ceilings and other Victorian minutia remain haunted by dockside cranes both old and new, modernized buildings and relentless oil industry. This is the history and present of the east coast, Saint John and its home of New Brunswick in particular. And on those typical Fundy Bay nights of thick fog, you can see the ghosts, sense their magic and can’thelp but feel haunted by the Maritimes.

The context of historical/industrial things both socio and macro, is something not lost on the populace of Saint John, New Brunswick. It is an environment of production pipelines, constant construction, shipping containers, eerie pines, and ancient brickwork which I grew up within, still linger within, and constantly dwell over, as do those who live in this port city. Whether anyone would admit it or not, the Maritimes is still somewhat lost in the glory of what it once was, a shipbuilding paradise of yore when wood and sail held value. It is a place both locked and lost in time due to tourism and new trades. While thankful for both, they’ve worked hard to keep afloat those ricketymemoirs as well as keep them bogged down for their own uses (a lesson for another day). It worksand doesn’t. It’s beautiful and harrowing, something not too distant from a ghost.

It is in technicality and chemical experimentation that this spectral essence arrives, an overly convoluted way of saying printmaking. It is a process only really obtainable with modern digital manipulation, a zealous abuse of acetone & xylene, and a hint of blue collar ingenuity. If that soundstechnical, it’s really not. It is something that can be taught in a day and said chemicals can bepurchased at any old hardware shop. More importantly, while the work is somewhat reproducible, each image is entirely singular in quality, a notion not too far off from the Victorian architecture copypasted and altered from their original base across the pond (another lesson for another day). The same transfer may be used and reused but it will never have the same indentation, tonality or hatching. This allows for an entirely unique form of collage printmaking that inspires a haunting intrigue and a gritty impression of a municipality not known outside of the east coast. My hope is to share that experience, this place, with an audience outside the confines of this brick woven city.

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