CALLANDER – It was Edna Scott’s love of horses that brought her to a magical land filled with art and musical carousels.
As a child Scott loved horses and drew horses, and things just evolved from there.
Scott, an artist whose work on canvas is primarily watercolour, was also instrumental in the construction of many carousels, including the ones on the lakefront in North Bay and a smaller, but still fully functional one, at her own home.
“They kind of grew together. The love of horses brought me to drawing horses and that changed to many other subjects,” she said.
Everywhere you look at Scott’s home there are antique carousel horses, including one that dates back to around 1890. Most of her horses are from the ‘20s.
The collection began back in the ‘70s. Unbeknownst to Scott, her husband Stewart, who passed away about six years ago, set about getting her collection started.
“I didn’t know this was going on. He was doing it as a gift,” she said.
A woman called him from Toronto where he had placed advertisements in two papers and said that she had a basement full of carousel horses.
“She had bought a carousel off a truck because she thought it was beautiful and she had a carousel in her back yard and had some extra horses,” she said.
Later on she purchased another one from the same woman.
She and Stewart moved from a farm in Callander to the home where Edna is living out her retirement years busied with her art and her carousels. On the farm she had an Arabian named Shawna, feeding her love of horses even further.
She painted a number of carousels on canvas and was approached in 2000 and asked if she would be interested in becoming involved in the North Bay carousel project.
“At the time they were thinking in terms of purchasing a carousel with fibreglass animals,” she said.
She explained that a fibreglass animal depreciates in value, similar to a car, as soon as it’s purchased.
“Whereas a carved horse will retain its value and actually increase in value,” said Edna.
It was that kind of knowledge that put her into the role of project manager and designer for the North Bay project.
“I did all the design work for the original carousel and then we decided to put a second one on the waterfront and I did the design work for that was well,” she said.
Her own carousel is a labour of love. Each animal came to her in varying states of disrepair.
“Some I had to get repaired and all of them I had to paint,” she said. “What happens with most carousels, especially the small travelling ones, is every spring they give them a coat of paint but they aren’t artists.”
She has a new horse ready to add to her carousel that a friend found on the internet belonging to a man in North Bay. The horse, which looks like a bucking bronco, once lived a life at the Calgary Stampede.
Edna found she was stripping off hundreds of coats of paint before she could begin applying a fresh coat.
However, Edna continues to paint and has a gallery filled with her work on her property and she belongs to a number of groups including Art on Main in North Bay and The Country Roads Tour that runs through the area in the summer.
The gallery at her home is filled with paintings showing Edna’s range and ability to paint in not only a number of styles, including a Japanese technique, but also on a number of subjects from birds and animals to flowers, sailboats, scenes from her travels, and of course, carousel horses.
She continues learning and travels to destinations such as France and Italy working with instructors and honing her craft even further.
Initially Edna was predominately a self-taught artist but it was when her friend and mother-in-law Margaret McLeod Scott came to live with the couple that she truly began painting.
“She was an artist and we began painting together. We were working in oils,” she said. “I learned a lot from her. It was great having a live-in instructor. We painted together for about 20 years.”
Edna originally began painting in oil but found the odour would permeate the household and didn’t like the feeling of the linseed on her hands or the smell of the linseed oil. It was the combination of these things that led her to try painting with watercolours.
“It took a while to adjust. I still occasionally do oil but if I do I can do it in the studio,” she said.
Working with watercolour also adds the ease of bringing her art with her as she travels.
“Other people sit by the beach and read and I do a little painting,” she said.