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21st annual folk art festival set for July 31

by Robert Hirtle

Iris and Dave Cosh of Kingsburg flank "Irene," a Brian Fancy-produced folk art work that has graced their seaside deck for the past eight years.
 Like many people, Dave and Iris Cosh knew little about Nova Scotia folk art before they started spending summers here over two decades ago.

 Now, it's a big part of their lives.

 "We came down and rented a house in Kingsburg in the village, and the owner of the house had a lot of pieces of folk art," recalls Mrs. Cosh. "We enjoyed looking at it and discussing it with her. Each year she had more new pieces."

 The former Ontario farming couple, who have since built their own home on a piece of land they purchased in Kingsburg in 1991, first started going to the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival in 1994.

 "We sort of just looked at everything and was curious about it," Mrs. Cosh recalls. "Then, the next year when we came down, we met some of the artists. We went to Bradford Naugler's place and we commissioned him to make a few pieces for our farm. He did a farmer and a couple of roosters, things that would sort of speak about our farm."

 That was the beginning of not only an admiration and affection for folk art, but the development of a personal collection which the Coshes say now numbers over 100 pieces.

 "Each year when we go back, I just say to Dave, 'Now, we have enough pieces. We don't need any more,' but something catches our eye and we buy a few more," she laughs. "And there are always a few new artists."

 One of their favourites from recent years is Lower East Pubnico artist Anselm "Sam" Amiro, who revisited a lifelong love of woodcarving when he retired from his regular job as a carpenter back in 1996.

 "I like the faces on them," Mrs. Cosh laughs of the several fisherman-themed pieces of his work the couple have in their collection.

 As with most dedicated folk art collectors, the Coshes have a connection to each piece they own, but they are also not without their favourites.

 "One of the first seagulls we bought from Bradford Naugler I absolutely love. I think that's my favourite ... the expression on his face," Mrs. Cosh says. "Another is this rooster. It always looks like it's looking at Dave at the table. That's a Ransford [Naugler]."

 One of the more interesting pieces the couple has in their collection is a life-sized Brian Fancy carving of a lady they affectionately call "Irene."

 They discovered the piece at the festival back in 2003 when they attended the event with two other couples who were visiting the area.

 "This piece was there and it hadn't sold. The three men decided it would be great for our deck," Mrs. Cosh explains. "She's been waiting out there since 2003 for her husband to come home from the sea. There's a trail that runs along the cliff and everybody that walks by waves at her. They think she's a person and they wonder what's wrong with the Coshes, they won't wave to us."

 This year's Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival takes place at the Lunenburg arena July 31 from noon to 4 p.m. and, as usual, the Coshes will be on hand checking out, and likely purchasing, some new works.

 "Folk art is just so much fun," Mr. Cosh says. "It's humorous, it's bright, whimsical and it isn't overwhelming in this setting. All these pieces have become our friends."

 "It makes you feel happy. We love it. Absolutely love it," Mrs. Cosh adds.

posted on 07/19/11
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