Jonathan MacDonald


Born and raised on the Miramichi, Jonathan grew up on the river and in the woods. He attended the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design from 1993 – 1997, graduating with a Degree in Fine Art.

Years of urban living and further artistic exploration ensued, in 2004 he returned tothe Miramichi to paint and live in the woods of central New Brunswick. Jonathan has continued his passion for documentation; exploring landscape through journals, photography, drawing, painting and creating an aesthetically enriched environment involving his off-the-grid cabin and its surroundings.


I met Jonathan MacDonald shortly after taking an art teaching post in Sunny Corner Miramichi in 1989. He was a precocious 14 year old who could draw well. Our early days were spent discussing art and music at noon in the old art portable. He had a sketchbook that contained, among other things, drawings of wolves and Christ suffering. Jon had a fervent interest in all things counter culture, loving rock & roll, Beat literature, horror films etc...I, being of like mind, naturally encouraged all of this.

Still in high school , he became the poster artist for Rooster Soup, a sort of psychedelic punk band I was involved with ...we both appreciated what an odd experiment in education this was becoming.

Jon's family had several out buildings that were wood heated, including a rustic log cabin known as the Shady Rest. We talked often of building our own remote cabins, and the "back to the land" thing was never far from my mind. In the mid 1990's I began building what was initially a 16x20' cabin in the middle of 20 acres of remote wood land I had purchased. A few years later, Jon did the same thing on his family's land, even using the same roof style and dimensions that I had used. The only major difference was that while Jon used logs from trees that he'd cut, I used second hand lumber from camps I'd disassembled along with trees I milled on the cabin's site. In 1998 I moved from the Miramichi to Kingston NB and began living off the grid.

By the time Jon finished up at NSCAD, we were old friends ...and it was clear I was no longer the teacher. Jon provided me with books I should read, artists I should investigate and films I should watch.

Jon played a large role in helping to make my cabin a reality. We spent many an evening plotting and planning the various directions our cabins would take, and it was becoming more apparent that the real art, the true work, was the creation of our living space and the attitude that accompanied it. Although we both largely rejected the NSCAD trappings of “Conceptual Art”, it was clear that our lifestyle took far more effort and imagination than any art object we could ever make.

The show is called Common Ground and there is a great deal of that now between us ...close to thirty years have passed, and we still paint landscapes, fuss on sheds, wander around in the woods, build fires and photograph our worlds. More importantly, we communicate continually on a daily basis. Jon has become my best friend and I can't imagine what my life would have been like had we never met. It is truly an honour for me to be doing this show with him. It is long overdue.

Glenn Hall, 2016