Arts + Culture » Literary

Nova Cantabrigiensis

By John Devlin (Island)

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On the cusp of adulthood and hopeful days ahead, Devlin set out to study theology at the University of Cambridge, only to suffer a mental breakdown which derailed his career forever. The devastation lingered upon his return to Nova Scotia, and idealism and rose-coloured nostalgia led Devlin to create Nova Canatabrigiensis---a series of drawings representing not only an idealized reflection of his time at Cambridge but a whole community that was to be built on the shores of the Minas Basin. Followers of Art Brut/Raw Vision will appreciate the drawings, rife with codes and keys, sequences of repeated motifs and hieroglyphs that adorn corners or float in isolation. This is the work of a beautiful mind who grasps at youthful dreams unfulfilled, seen through the looking glass of the future. You don’t need to know John Devlin’s backstory to appreciate his lovely vision, but it adds depth and contextualization to these Utopian blueprints.

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