John Hartman

John Hartman: Gary Troake above Twillingate, 2002

Gary Troake above Twillingate, 2002, oil on linen, 36 x 72 inches

Gary Troake above Twillingate

Twillingate is a Newfoundland outport on the northern coast. In 2001, I was traveling west along this coast on a sketching trip when I came across a newspaper article describing the life and tragic death of Gary Troake. Gary was an activist on behalf of fisherman and sealers of Newfoundland and a great believer in the importance of fishing and sealing to the cultural fabric of his community. He died along with his young nephew when they went out of the protected harbour of Twillingate to lift their nets on a Sunday as the law required. There was a ferocious wind, the sea was wild and they were in a 20-foot open boat. The boat was swamped and only one body was recovered.

When I arrived in Twillingate, I made a sketch taking in the breadth of the harbour from a viewpoint above the Troake family home. The weather was cold, rainy and windy. I remembered Gary’s untimely death and placed the story in the sky, unfolding from right to left. First the two men in their skiff heading through a tall wave, next the men being tossed in the waves, and finally the two bodies in the sea.