Closing of Geopoetics project

A word from Céline Le Merlus, curator of the Stewart Hall Art Gallery

The Geopoetics project was a huge success, more than what we could have ever hoped, and you, the public and colleagues were the key to this success. Two years ago, the general director M. Weemaes came to us and asked for an ambitious project to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada at Stewart Hall. After a lot of discussions we realized that our voices were not enough to represent the entirety of Canada’s identity, and so we decided that this project would be a very special project, not one to be simply created and then presented to the public, but one that would invite the public into the creation process itself.

The first step was to brainstorm with the community on why we are proud to be Canadians, and what it is about Canada that we want to celebrate exactly. Throughout these discussions and workshops, a few keywords consistently came up: nature, environment, diversity, liberty, respect … all the values we share as a population and make us all Canadians despite our many differences. These became the foundation on which we could build the project.

The second step was finding the right person to turn these ideas into reality. For this we had the opportunity of working with artistic curator Kasia Basta. Rather than finding works of art created by artists in their studio, which would then be presented to the public, she was tasked to find artists who would incorporate the public into the creation process, so as to continue and enrich the collective reflections initiated earlier: Who are we? What precisely makes us Canadian? What about Canada makes us proud … or perhaps a bit less so.

Most of the works presented in Stewart Park and even in the art gallery could not have been done without your input and participation. And even the few that could, became the center of several activities in cultural mediation that encouraged visitors to reflect on the important question at the heart of each work.



A good example of this was the sculpture Heritage exhibited in Stewart Park—heritage is a bilingual word, each letter of which was a made into a lantern by the artist. Our educators took this idea of light and lanterns as the basis of a huge project with 600 children in local schools. Divided in small teams, they were given a lantern and asked: if this lantern was Canada, what would it look like? The children went to work and a few days later Stewart Hall was decorated with 150 lanterns, all of which were very different, but also unmistakably Canadian! And that is the message of the Geopoetics project.

Over the summer, 3,500 of the 10,000 visitors participated in the workshops or collaborated with the artists to make this project happen. A colossal amount of work was put into this project and we are very proud of what we have accomplished together. Our deepest thanks go to everyone who contributed to making this wonderful project a reality.

A very special thanks to: the entire Pointe-Claire community; Heritage Canada and the City of Pointe-Claire; the whole team at Stewart Hall and all our municipal colleagues; curator Kasia Basta and the 25 artists involved in the project; the Stewart Hall volunteers who help us welcome visitors every day; and our community leaders who became official ambassadors for the project outside of Pointe-Claire.