The Place I Love: Darren Emenau

Text by Sarah Ratchford
Photography by Denis Duquette

In lime, coral pink and turquoise, with cracked glazes that evoke the surface imperfections of fungi and corroded metal, Darren Emenau’s sculptures look like organic objects dug up from the sea. It’s no surprise that the Saint John–based ceramicist also known as MNO draws so much inspiration from the wild at his doorstep.

Saint John, NB, boasts historic streetscapes and scenic ocean views.

Why Saint John?

It just feels right. I recently had a show in Saskatoon and I loved the big open prairie skies. But when I came home, I was like, “Ahh, the water.” I need to hear the sound of the waves! For what I want to do, Saint John is perfect. We have this little house and we’re just floating along. My collection, Olio, was about Saint John…. It was made from local clay that I dug up hanging out around the Saint John River.

Irving Nature Park’s picturesque boardwalk over a salt marsh is the perfect spot for birdwatching.

What do you love about Irving Nature Park, your favourite place?

It’s only five minutes away, so I try to go there at least every other day to burn off stress. The park is 600 acres and six different ecosystems. One side is a steep rugged coastline and the other is along a massive marsh. I love being there in the hot afternoon, exploring the shores at night with a headlamp in the rain, or grabbing my skis when there is a dump of fresh powder. I am deeply inspired by the natural formations of the area, where there are lichen-covered trees and jagged outcrops, and it shows in my work. I feel so privileged to have this minutes from my studio and home. Everybody I see there is so happy—it’s like we all know we have this gem in our backyard.

Darren Emenau’s ceramic art is inspired by the wild beauty of New Brunswick.

What’s your next project about?

At Laverty Falls [at Fundy National Park], after the spring freshet is gone, there are these holes inside larger holes in the rocks, made by smaller rocks spinning inside when water rushes by. The [ancient Celtic] Druids would have wondered who’d made these things, [which] look human-made—they’re perfectly smooth. My project is based on that.

What else do you love about Saint John?

Boating and swimming and hiking along the river. Living here, you don’t have to have a cottage to experience that. And I never get tired of the architecture and the wooden buildings. I’m obsessed with driving around and seeing these crazy houses along the ocean.

Irving Nature Park is located at 1790 Sand Cove Road
Contact: (506) 653-7367; @IrvingNaturePark on Facebook

This article appears in issue 76 of our in-flight magazine, re:porter