Hooked on Grand Manan; island resident prepares for upcoming art gallery show

GRAND MANAN – A pesky sister got Marg Currie into hooking rugs. “It was at the start of the pandemic,” Currie says. “My sister sent me a kit by Deanne Fitzgerald she has a business out of Nova Scotia. She said, ‘Here, I want you to try this. It really helped me.’ My sister,” Currie continues, “was going through some health things and rug hooking kept her grounded.

“But then she kept calling and asking me how it was going. Every time I picked it [the project] up, I felt overwhelmed,” Currie explains. But guilt got Currie to complete the rug and she says, “Once it was finished, I was in love.”

Currie found that she couldn’t stop hooking. Pretty soon she graduated from kits to finding photos of Grand Manan and New Brunswick that inspired her, drawing them on burlap, and hooking them in wools of vivid colours. In June, Currie will have a show at the Grand Manan Art Gallery with 32 larger works of up to four feet each, and a number of smaller of pieces.

The works testify to Currie’s love of painting and photography. “I’m not very good at either one,” she says, “but rug hooking marries the two together.” She calls her scenes very “painterly.” They capture parts of the Grand Manan environment, such as the Seal Cove sheds, lobsters, puffins, whales, laundry on a clothesline, and an abandoned house.

Currie, born and raised in New Brunswick, was happy to retire to Grand Manan a few years ago. She finds inspiration everywhere on the island. “I took my dogs for a walk on the beach, and here when you walk on the beach when the tide’s out, you walk on the ocean floor,” Currie says of the inspiration for a piece called Tidal Waters.

“Something caught my eye. I loved the colours and the flow of it,” she said of the rug.

Sometimes she’ll put a call out for particular photos, and then quite soon after a rug appears of people on the beach collecting periwinkles, titled Winkle Tide. Other times the rugs tell a story. “Anniversary Bouquet is one I made from a memory,” Currie says. “My father, every wedding anniversary, would take an old rubber boot and pick some wild roses on Parlee Beach where I spent my summers growing-up. Then he’d present it to my mother,” Currie recalls.

“That’s a nice memory,” she says. “The kids used to go down to the beach with my dad.”

A ghost, the genesis for a rug called Old Della, is based on her belief “we might have a ghost. One of the islanders came by when I mentioned it on Facebook. She came out and told me,” Currie says, “about her grandmother who lived down around here. I decided to do a rug of Della.” Currie admits “she [the ghost] gets into a bit of trouble, but she’s welcome here.”

For future work, Currie is hoping to work on photographs of historical scenes and plans to spend part of her summer beside her pool, hooking a rug of “men in a dory.”