I am delighted to announce the new touring multi-media exhibition called “WAR FLOWERS” has been awarded $250,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage, and a further $150,000 from generous private donors, so that the “WAR FLOWERS” project can be started. The exhibition will open on June 1, 2017 at Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens and will then travel to the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, the new Visitor Centre at the Canadian National Memorial, Vimy, France, and to Chateau Ramezay, the Historical Museum of Montreal. We have also been informed that the application by Les Amis des Jardins de Métis to the Museums Assistance Program was rated in the highest ranking of all those submitted by museums from across Canada. Plans are also underway to add a Toronto exhibition venue for January 2018, prior to being sent to Vimy, France, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.
It is a great honour to be invited to be collaborate on the WAR FLOWERS exhibition, and delighted to be working with renowned documentary filmmaker, Viveka Melki, artisan perfumeur, Alexandra Bachand, conservator, Celine Arsenault and exhibition designer, Normand Dumont. (artist biographies below)
The exhibition is inspired by the correspondence from Lieutenant-Colonel George Stephen Cantlie to his wife and children during the First World War. These letters, preserved by Cantlie’s granddaughter, each contain a pressed flower picked from one of the battlefield’s 100 years ago.”WAR FLOWERS” will be presenting the letters of Lieutenant-Colonel George Stephen Cantlie, to highlight the pressed flowers found in his correspondence by linking them to 10 people-soldiers or Canadian citizens-who played a key role in Canada’s contribution to the First World War.
The “WAR FLOWERS” synesthetic exhibition will also include ten hand-engraved crystal works of art, sound and light effects, as well as unique fragrances associated with the 10 flowers and people, and an opportunity to honor those Canadian men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.
“WAR FLOWERS” is an exhibition on humanity’s unfailing ability to find beauty, even in times of war. If war is a story we are doomed to repeat, then innocence appears to be its eternal partner. As these flowers have never been separated from their letters, so has war ever been part of humanity’s story. It has left its imprint on our earth, as pollen stains paper…
It is my hope is that the ten “WAR FLOWERS” sculptures will capture not only the fear and frailties of the human soul, but also the courage and hope of the human spirit to soar and survive war. Out of this “living hell” beauty revealed itself to Lieutenant-Colonel George Stephen Cantlie, and it is my aspiration to reveal through my crystal art where fear, hope, beauty and humanity intersects.
WAR FLOWERS CREATIVE TEAM BIOGRAPHIES
Viveka Melki, Curator & Film Maker
The “WAR FLOWERS” curator Viveka Melki is a renowned Canadian filmmaker, who has worked and traveled in cultures where repressive regimes are dominant. From these experiences are born her projects around conflict – and the capacity of the human spirit for resilience. Born in Senegal, West Africa and educated in the UK before immigrating to Canada she sees the world through a multi-cultural lens. In 2014, she directed the two-part series “War Correspondence,” (Radio- Canada, RDI) and her most recent production, the feature-length documentary “After Circus” (2015), received acclaim at several festivals including this year’s Hot Docs in Toronto and the Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal.
Alexandra Bachand, Artisan Perfumeur
Alexandra Bachand, is an artisan perfumeur, who is a pupil of Nicolas De Barry, French Squire and grand master perfumeur. She is an artist impassioned by scent and natural materials. Born in Bordeaux – France, from Canadian parents, Alexandra grew up in the Eastern Townships where she still resides today in the beautiful town of Magog, Quebec. Originally a Fine Arts student at Bishop’s University, Alexandra studied oil painting for several years, before going onto co-found a creative studio working as an artistic director in graphic design and in the co-direction of short films. These years spent in visual communications and marketing enriched by various collaborations in the Montreal arts and culture milieu, helped in later establishing her own perfumery company Alexandrabach. Alexandra studied at The Perfumery Art School in England, specializing in the use of natural raw materials, and is dedicated to perfecting a meticulous perfume making expertise combining patience, elegance and finesse.
Mark Raynes Roberts – War Flowers – Crystal Artist + Designer
Mark Raynes Roberts was born in Sutton Coldfield, England, and trained at the Birmingham City University, Institute of Art & Design, before immigrating to Toronto, Canada, in 1982. He is a crystal artist, designer, photographer and award-winning goldsmith, whose works of art have been presented to royalty, heads of state and to distinguished leaders in their chosen fields; and resides in many private and corporate art collections around the world. In 2015, he became the first crystal artist to be invited to have a solo exhibition at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. The introspective nature of Raynes Roberts’ work focuses on human transcendence and the complex issues that challenge humanity including equality, spirituality, diversity, our relationship with the environment, and the capacity to have hope in the face of adversity.
Céline Arsenault, Botanist and Conservator
Céline Arsenault is a respected Quebec botanist and librarian at the Jardin Botanique / Montréal Botanical Garden Library, and has been responsible for conservation of the fragile 100 year old pressed flowers, being preserved in shadow boxes for the WAR FLOWERS touring multi-media exhibitions.
Testimonials of support for WAR FLOWERS:
“This new exhibition will let Canadians discover little-known aspects of their history in such an original way. Congratulations to the creative team behind the concept for showing boldness and creativity in dealing with the subject of the First World War in such a unique manner.”
—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“The presentation of this important exhibition, which will travel all the way to Ottawa for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, will definitely help raise awareness of the outstanding national historic and heritage sites that make up Reford Gardens. We are proud that thousands of Canadians and visitors to both the region and Canada’s capital will have access to this piece of our heritage.”
—Rémi Massé, Member of Parliament (Avignon–La Mitis–Matane–Matapédia)
“Flowers and stories are an inextricable part of Reford Gardens. For the past 90 years, the gardens created by Elsie Reford have been covered with indigenous and exotic plants. This exhibition will give us a chance to explore the history of several remarkable people, including Elsie Reford and her cousin George Stephen Cantlie, as well as their role in the First World War. Combining innovation, conservation and tradition, the exhibition will take place in the historic Estevan Lodge, where visitors will be immersed in a journey that’s both educational and emotional.”
—Alexander Reford, Director, Reford Gardens
The “WAR FLOWERS” touring multi-media exhibition schedule:
– Les Jardin de Metis / Reford Gardens, Grande Metis, Quebec (June 1st – September 2017)
– Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario (October – December 2017)
– Exhibition Venue To Be Determined, Toronto, Ontario (January – March 2018)
– New Visitor Education Centre, Vimy Memorial Park, Vimy, France (April – June 2018)
– Chateau Ramezay Historic Site and Museum of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec (July – December 2018)
For more information please contact:
WAR FLOWERS, Curator
Tel: 418 740 3064