Artwork "Levitating in reverie,” award winner in Senior Visual Art category. Photo credit Kim Ploughman, taken at The Rooms' Arts & Letters Awards event.
Anastasia Tiller is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Lethbridge, Newfoundland. Her work is eclectic, encompassing various mediums and styles; from monochromatic to colourful pointillism landscapes, and gestural flat paintings to murals.
Her textile works move in a diﬀerent direction all together. Anastasia takes a fun and whimsical new spin on the traditional Newfoundland and Labrador art of rug hooking; a craft she took up during the long, cold winters in Lethbridge, NL. Far from traditional, these rug creations are a playful expedition to ones imagination. Theatrical and bright, these textile creatures exude an optimism that effectively bring light to the darkest of days.
Tiller is a recipient of the 2023 Arts and Letters Award and is actively involved in the provincial visual arts community as an art teacher. Not only is Anastasia a member of the Visual Artists of Newfoundland and Labrador, she served on the VANL Board of Directors for 3 consecutive years. She is also an active participant in the Francophone community of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Photo of Anastasia Tiller in her studio.
Who is Anastasia Tiller and what do you do?
Such a great question. It really makes one think. I ask myself this question once in a while and for the past 15 years I've described myself as a multidisciplinary, multicultural artist. Over the years my focus in art evolved to include textile work and I have Newfoundland winters to thank for that. The tradition of rug hooking in our beautiful province is visible in every community.
I am also a woman and I feel this influences my view of the world.
Did you always know you would become an artist or did you dream of a different career path as a child?
I have always wanted to be an artist. Even though life sometimes took me down different paths, it finally lead me back to who I always felt I was. In the past several years, my artistic career developed strongly and when I look back at myself as a child, I am happy that my dream has been realized.
What is the story of your career so far? When did it start and how has it progressed?
As I've mentioned, I have always been interested in art. I have studied art in various institutions. I think my artistic breakthrough happened when I stopped looking for validation and found my own voice; when I stopped worrying about what I create and how I do it. I believe this Newfound freedom in creating (pun is totally intended) opened up a new connection to the audience. I think once you find your authentic voice and stay true to yourself and your vision, your audience will feel that.
Working on a project “Personal Mythology” at St Michael’s Print Shop, in a sweater from Johnny Ruth. Photo credit Georgina Dawkin.
What are some community projects, events, or groups you are involved with now?
I am so happy to say that I am represented by the Leyton Gallery. I am also involved with Eastern Edge Gallery, an artist-run organization in St. John's that supports and encourages artists through a wide variety of programs, events, and opportunities. I was honored to be part of a group of 4 artists chosen to create murals to thank our essential workers during the pandemic. The murals were installed at the Avalon Mall in 2021.
I am also a member of VANL- CARFAC and previously served on the board for 3 years. I am a member of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador and was absolutely delighted to exhibit “Room for Happiness” at their gallery in 2020. I am part of Cultural Craft and I'm thrilled to partner up with Trinity Historic Society Programming. I am also a member of Union House Arts in Port Union on the Bonavista Peninsula.
I am so honored and excited to say that there is also an amazing project that I am going to take part in this year. It is the Bonavista Biennale 2023. This is an outstanding world class event that takes place on the Bonavista Peninsula. I encourage your readers to follow this project to learn more about the history of the Biennale, and about the upcoming events and exhibitions, including the inspiring list of this year’s artists and curators!
Mural for essential workers 2021, Avalon Mall. Photo credit Ethel Brown - @mplusephotography
What is your favorite thing to do in your downtime?
In my downtime I enjoy hiking and being near the water - whether it's a pond or the ocean. I love to garden and pick blueberries in the fall. There is nothing better then having your own carrots, peas, blueberries, and partridgeberries frozen and available to you through the winter.
It’s been said that our bodies are to clothing what canvases are to an artist's paintbrush. Each garment is like a brushstroke, with different fits conveying certain styles. We become art itself with our clothing; we embody the very message we are trying to demonstrate. Would you agree with this statement? If so, can you expand on how fashion moves or inspires you to express yourself?
I absolutely agree with this statement. We self-express through clothing. Clothing impacts our mood, our walk, and how others perceive us. We communicate a lot through our clothes. To be able to choose the colours you wear and to be enveloped in those colours and textures is like being a part of the painting; and you are the painter. It always amazes me the ability of new garments to lift the spirits.
"Puffin Rococo"; oil on birch panel.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style depends on the occasion and also on the actual location. Fashion trends change from outports to city, from province to province, and country to country. My style at home on the Bonavista peninsula is very casual; comfortable shoes and colourful sweaters have always been my staples. I really love a fun sweater! I've also always enjoyed you can step up your style a bit in St. John's. There are plenty of the occasions for fancy shoes, dresses, and wool coats.
You are on a deserted island, what 3 items do you have?
One would definitely be a good piece of art, whether it is a painting or a sculpture or textile. It would be very difficult to narrow it down to just one of course, but the main theme must be hope. Then depending on the island, something to keep me warm or cool. For the third thing I think a nice cooking pot would be useful.
What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?
I would like to visit Portugal.
Why do you choose to call Newfoundland home?
Newfoundland is poetic and mystical and full of stories. I love the constant contrast of textures; here you have rocks and waves and wood and fog, old boats and clotheslines. I feel connected to the people and I'm glad that I can offer something to my community like yoga and art classes.
Variety of textile art pieces.
What's the most rewarding part of your career path?
The most rewarding and enriching part is the connection to the people. Having the opportunity to meet inspiring creatives across the arts as well as dedicated business owners, and to have a chance to self express. It has been a very fulfilling career path.
"Fish of Many Colours"; hooked rug.
Your career path is truly inspiring. What advice do you have for anyone that might be interested in pursuing a career in visual arts?
My advice would be to stay connected, stay persistent, do what you love, and have no expectations because this open mindedness will always lead to new and surprising journeys. Find a supportive group of likeminded people. Get involved locally and create your own opportunities.
We think that there is a deep connection between fashion and art. Today, art has no boundaries. Artistic influences are now featured on garments and accessories as well. Would you ever consider creating wearable art?
Such an excellent remark. I agree that art and fashion collaborations produce very interesting results. I have explored this avenue a little and have made some wearable art as well as artist T-shirts. Creating more wearable art pieces is definitely in the works as I develop my artistic practice.
Newfoundland has a vibrant arts community; from musicians and songwriters, to dancers and painters, authors and actors, and every form of craft in between. Johnny Ruth tries to show continued support by carrying numerous pieces and forms of art designed and/or manufactured by both local and Canadian artists, and has monthly live Artist Showcases in our shop window. How important do you think it is for the community to support local arts and local businesses that support the arts?
Community support for the arts in Newfoundland is like no other place in the world. It is very important because we collectively create our unique cultural identity. Not only does it help in building community and a sense of place, but it also supports mental health and creativity.
What’s your favorite thing about Johnny Ruth?
Visiting the store is always such a positive experience. You feel welcome and special. There is always something interesting to find. Everyone working at the store is so knowledgeable and always gives great styling advice. Fashion is all about the styling and trends; sometimes it is hard to judge what works best for you, but at Johnny Ruth you can always find someone to give you feedback and make great suggestions. The design of the space is also gorgeous and cozy.
You have created art using several different mediums and methods. How do you approach creating a piece, and what inspires your creative process?
Being an adept multi-media artist, I incorporate and work with different mediums; I select the material that will best communicate my artistic vision.
Commissioned Oil Painting.
How do you see the NL art industry evolving in the future, and how do you hope to contribute to this evolution?
I see the art industry of Newfoundland and Labrador moving towards more contemporary art while at the same time preserving the traditional and historic. I can see more and more artistic collaborations happening and producing new and unexpected art forms. I can already see art being much more inclusive, reaching with many cultural voices. It feels like theater, music, visual arts, performance, and fine craft has been re-energized in recent years. I can only hope that I can continue to contribute to this vibrant canvas of talent.
Landscape paintings series on display at the Leyton Gallery
Anastasia Tiller’s exhibition is on display at the Rooms until mid May and her work is also available for purchase at the Leyton Gallery.
To learn more about the Bonavista Biennale that Anastasia will be taking part in, visit their website here.
And to keep up to date with Anastasia's artistic endeavours, check out her instagram @frozenpartridgeberry!