Melanie Craig-Hansford


Processing Cedar

January 13-March 10, 2023
The Saint John Art Centre
20 Peel Plaza, Saint John, NB E2L 5A5

During the isolation of the pandemic my artistic process led me to an investigation of the cedar trees along the shores of the Belleisle Bay and the Saint John River. It has been years of turmoil, tragedy, and despair. I processed this by walking every day in nature and past the cedars along the Belleisle Bay.

The cedars take me out of my head and force me to look at them with artistic eyes, to remain present and feel their energy course through me. I see the cedars resolve to cling to the shore, and marvel in the cedar’s ability to persevere and survive long after it has been cut. When I look at them each day, I feel joy even if it is just for the length of the walk.

I will include paintings of how we process and use cedar. For example, an old cedar shingled farmhouse, cedar strip canoes and a cedar rail fence.

I will highlight my artistic process throughout this time of isolation by showing how I came to the images on canvas, my preliminary ink drawings, and sketches, how I investigated and decided on the composition, how I chose to express the elements of design, and how I tried to communicate the emotional content in the paintings. This process is not linear…the artistic practice, for me, is an intuitive meander.

The show Processing Cedar, will reflect these three processes and highlight my artistic journey into a world of abstraction.


It all started with a poem……

Processing Cedar

On the bay
ice as thin as patience
everything is grey
the ice
the fog
the lichen covered cedar

gulls scream
themselves hoarse
deer paw
their hooves raw
crows flap
themselves spent

no need to listen
for the news from birds
town criers declare
invisible microbes
have arrived on our soil


a quarantine
seal up your houses
mark your death door
for fear spreads faster
than fleas
add the departed
to the death carts
record their names
on the bill of mortality
dip their coins in vinegar


we make masks
turn whiskey stills into vats
of assassin gel
vilify bats


forces me to stay
at the water’s edge
each day
like the last

no need to practice
a safe distance
I am the only one
on the shore

the world shifts
the moon has turned red
even the wind has stopped
seeking branches to break

none of us can breathe


A hummingbird
in our garage
has never experienced ceiling
is baffled by
the concept of doors
oh how can
an exhausted
be the thing
that finally breaks me.


on the shore
a cedar
I kneel before her
remove a rock beneath her root
sit in the hollow

chainsaws in the distance
your bark coils inward
you know naught of fear
for I’ve heard your fallen cries
have watched your broken limbs
succumb to gales

you have captivated me
your lower branches
bleached titanium in the sun
like brittle bones under foot

oh cedar
teach me how to resist
the world's propensity for rot—
how to stop this erosion
how to be still