Book Review: Emma Fitzgerald’s Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore

[Book review by Murray Dewhurst]  

‘Spring is a long time coming on the South Shore, but finally, the leaves start to bud and the daylight extends later into the evening. We start to live life in a way that tries to approximate summer — going outside more….’

The opening statement to the first chapter of Emma Fitzgerald’s Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore (Formac Publishing, 127 pages) is entitled ‘Spring’ and sets the format — it’s a book arranged by season.

Coming from a mild maritime climate myself I have to admit forgetting how weather can impact the lives of those in harsher climes. This book reminded me of that in graphic style with its riot of colourful illustrations depicting spring, summer and even the autumn chapters but followed by a decidedly shorter and drabber winter chapter.

The sport of sketching is obviously a seasonal practice in these parts!

This book is a follow-up to Emma’s first book, Hand Drawn Halifax (read Marc Taro Holmes 2015 review here) as she sketches her way further south along the South Shore.

Emma’s loose sketch style of pen and ink with digital colour added later brings this book to life nicely. The immediacy of her sketches and endearing subject matter will appeal to any inquisitive armchair traveler or urban sketcher (aren’t all urban sketchers inquisitive by nature?) and certainly gave this reviewer an insight into an unknown part of the world.

Fans of architecture will be drawn to the quirky building styles (ever
wondered what a Lunenburg bump is?) decorated in their bright colours.
There’s plenty of local culture and history to delve into along the way
too: from Jo-Ann’s, a deli in Mahoe Bay where cakes reign supreme, to sampling a Knot burger – a tribute to the original German immigrants to Lunenburg, and a recipe for making your own sauerkraut. Emma introduces us to the culture of the Mi’kmaw, the original inhabitants of the region, and takes us to Acadian East Pubnico where the road signs are still written in French. We learn of the hardships endured by the early black loyalist settlers in Birchtown.

I’m impressed with this collection of 127 pages packed with sketches that depict the intensity of life lived along the many bays, beaches, islands and fishing boats on Nova Scotia’s South Coast.

Visit Formac Publishing for more information, order online, or check out Emma’s website to see more of her art.

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