Eileen Balsom Matthews of New Perlican is the artist of NERRL Hand Painted Designs. She celebrates iconic features of life in her home province on canvas (selling originals and reproductions), glass, slate, wood, crockery, upcycled bottles - you name it - to create fun and useful pieces of functional art for everyday living. Eileen is a juried artist with the Craft Council.
Beautiful, colourful teapots, wine glasses, and salt shakers tell tales of downtown St. John’s, the fragrance of lilac in a warm summer breeze, and the brightness of long stilt-legged fishing stages. Eileen says, “I’m inspired by my community and our environment, and love sharing through art.”
Many who love Eileen's work are lovers of all things Newfoundland so appreciate being able to give - and receive - NERRL art. Prints of Eileen's sold-out originals, coasters with iconic Newfoundland scenes, row house key holders, and the authentic Newfoundland Christmas hanger are all holiday favourites. The puffins, whales, row houses and NERRL's trademarked 'Crooked Stages' arts are perfect ways to share a little bit of home all over the world.
A Heart's Content-er by birth, Eileen grew up on the meadows, fishing stages and beaches and always found herself drawn to creation. The interest didn’t wane when she was a young mom building a career in banking, but then there was no time to pursue it.
Eileen’s spare time is dedicated to building community in her region through economic, tourism, heritage and innovative development. The cod moratorium of 1992 changed rural Newfoundland and created a renewed appreciation for Newfoundland culture.
In her early fifties, health concerns steered Eileen to an early retirement from the banking business. Finally, Eileen’s inspiration to paint found space to show up and NERRL Hand Painted Designs was born.
The name NERRL (sounds like ‘girl’ as in a cheerful yes g’rl as one friend would say to another) was coined from the first letters of the names of Eileen’s grandchildren. The family integration became all the more poignant with the passing of six and half-year-old Emma in 2020. Emma is the ‘E’ in NERRL, and now the company is one of the ways Eileen keeps her close.
Eileen’s main medium is acrylic paint on just about any surface, and she is known for her ability to transform old bottles, wood, and other materials to art. Right now she’s exploring work with bee products and is excited about integrating the value of bees - ecologically as well as to the province - to her work. This puts her in touch with the gardening she does.
Eileen’s workshop is right in New Perlican, and she runs it as an Open Studio. So if you’re visiting, or out for a StayCation adventure on the beautiful Baccalieu Coastal Drive and the timing allows, you might just find yourself immersed in the sweet joy of Newfoundland, live and in person. Keep an eye out for the NERRL signs on the main road.
You can also find NERRL Hand Painted Designs at Artistry on Church in Bonavista, Dock Marina in Trinity, Hidden Treasures in Bay Roberts, Brigus Mercantile in Brigus, Legge's Restaurant in Heart's Content, Gatherall's Gift Store in Bay Bulls and at Orchard Berry Arrangements, Urban Market 1919, Spruce Grove, Alberta or order online from the link above.