The Bathurst Heritage Museum is proud to present the art works of Jean Frances in Gallery 360 during the month of December. The theme of her work is Christmas. The hours of the museum are now 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and anytime by appointment. The museum will be closed from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 but appointments may still be made for visitors. To arrange a different time for viewing call 546-5718.
Article from The Northern Light, November 2013
What started as an annual project for friends and family has turned into a gallery on display at the Bathurst Heritage Museum.
Bathurst resident Jean-Frances Cousens (Mann), has been making her own Christmas cards for family and friends for over 30 years.
“I’ve always made my own Christmas cards and I draw and I often take something I’ve drawn in the community or in New Brunswick or in my neighbourhood and then poems as well because usually I get a poem going through my head so I put them together,” she said.
Until Dec. 15, Cousens (Mann) has a gallery of some of her works from over the years on display at Gallery 360 located upstairs at the heritage museum.
She started making cards in 1976 after she graduated from university. The first card she made was a photo she took stockings hung on the fireplace with new camera equipment she’d purchased and developed in her dark room. The tradition carried on from there.
“I feel it’s really important if you’re not in touch all year, to get in touch at Christmas,” she said. “Even if it’s just a card, you’ve got to get in touch.”
Inspirations come from all different things for Cousens (Mann). One of the cards featured in the gallery was inspired by a brightly coloured church in Lamèque. Another drawing features a dead branch that is decorated like a Christmas tree with various items that have memories attached, a Christmas tree from one year early in her marriage to Dick Mann.
“Christmas is always about memories, I think, and thinking of your family and children,” she said. “I miss it a lot not having a child at home because you like to bring in more but that’s life too so you have to remember.”
She has a 25-year-old daughter, Josephine Cousens Mann who lives in Toronto.
There are many feelings associated with the Christmas season that vary from person to person but Cousens (Mann) said she thinks the feelings associated with the season are important.
“Christmas can be a sad time but I love the season because it reminds you of the things you don’t have also, like people pass on but I feel that we’re very fortunate to have it as a celebration in our society,” she said.
Cousens got her start as an artist early on. She said her interest in art began as a child.
“I always liked making things or doing things in the winter,” she said. “I just drew because I liked to draw.”
Her interest in art deepened when she was in grade two and a classmate who was from Paris, who liked to draw, drew a picture.
“I invited him to my birthday party at the end of the year and he drew the most beautiful picture,” she said. “He’s just drawn our house from memory and put a road and the maple trees and the front yard – I was always so impressed with that.”
She went on to become a nurse to “be practical” and then earned her fine art and humanities at McMaster University.
Cousens (Mann) expresses her creativity through a variety of different forms. She paints in acrylic, does line drawings and used to do some watercolour painting. She also recently purchased a printing press which she hopes to begin using in the near future.
Anyone interested in viewing the gallery can go during regular business hours of the museum 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday or they can call Jean-Frances at 546-5717 to arrange a viewing at a different time.