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Harbour Main artist busy on a labour of love about Thornlea

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Amber Lynn Thorne grew up in Thornlea, a community with a steadily dwindling population on the isthmus of the Avalon Peninsula.
She remembers making a list of the residents with her mom as a child, totaling just over a hundred at that time.
As Thornlea’s population sits at about half that number now, Thorne has taken it upon herself to record the people and stories that make up the fabric of her hometown.
“I feel this burning obligation to document things as they are before they are no longer,” Thorne said. “If the information about the community is not collected – the history and stories, the folklore – they’re going to disappear forever.”
The now-resident of Harbour Main is inspired by the iconic blue and white ceramics that can be seen in so many kitchens and curio cabinets around the island and will represent her discoveries through this medium. Potential imagery includes the drying of salt cod, kneading buns, and people tending to vegetable gardens on ceramic plates and cups.
Recently, she has also been painting boats on ceramic jugs, or “vessels on vessels” as she calls it.
Thorne, who left Thornlea 11 years ago, hopes to bring the community together in her attempts to uncover the tenuous existence of stories that only remain as memories now in the minds of those still living there. Monthly meetings at the Town Hall will give residents the opportunity to share their memories and stories.
Growing up near the water has meant everything to Thorne. Her father Alvin, who died suddenly two years ago, was a fisherman who spent his life on the water to provide for his family.
Overcome with grief after his death, Thorne found herself returning to the beach time and time again, beachcombing the area for odds and ends. The ceramics she would find on the beach would become the inspiration for her current work.
“I found a lot of peace in that,” she said.
After relocating to Harbour Main, she moved the kitchen window that her father used to gaze out of every day into her art studio overlooking the waterfront.
“I owe everything that I have to the ocean because of the sacrifices that my dad made,” she said. “Being able to see it all the time, it’s really grounding.”
Even though the work is about the community of Thornlea at large, she always has her mind on her father.
“It’s all a dedication to him,” she said.
Once her work is completed later this year, Thorne will host an exhibition at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s.

After her father Alvin died, Amber Lynn Thorne traveled to Triton to apprentice under boat mural artist Jason Sharpe, where the pair would contribute to the artwork on Alvin’s boat Al’s Legacy. Since his passing, Thorne has also found herself painting representations of the boat on her ceramics.

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