Art Inspiration: Québec Trip / The Art Of Montréal



Like any other city Montréal has its own style of artistic expression you just have to look for it. Outside the museums the city is full of examples, through the people and architecture that make it so unique.

The funny thing is that as I was exploring the city we went into a building that has the Barbie Expo on display. This is a collection of Barbie dolls from different places around the world, scenes and eras. I wasn’t into the exhibit, my friend liked it and I have to admit that many of the dolls looked like some of the famous people you may know. They had Elizabeth Taylor from Cleopatra, Jack Sparrow and even James Bond.
Yet I continued to a famous location in Montréal that has a lot of significance. The Bell Centre where the Montréal Canadians play. They are a historic hockey franchise that has too many years of amazing history to place in this blog. It was just amazing to see all these wonderful tributes to things I remember as a child or read about.
Walking along these streets seeing all these buildings you can see the culture of the city come to life.
Even along the Old port of Montréal you can see art. They showed faces of people on trees across the port. These faces were projections on the trees as they moved across them.
Montréal was filled with art. One just has to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Friday Two Cents: Québec Trip / The Citadel And Old Québec


On the last day I spent in Québec I wanted to visit the Citadel of old Québec and the fortifications. Because this had a historical and military aspect I went alone. My friend knew about the history and wasn’t too interested in the military aspect, but the main reason was because this part was very personal to me. The military is a very personal aspect of my life that only a select few know about and I allow in.

I have been to the Citadel on a previous trip to Québec but I still wanted to revisit the place and the history it inspires. Built in the mid-1800 due to the growing concern of American aggression, today it is still and active military base that is the ceremonial home of ‘Le Royale 22ieme Regiment du Canadais’ the Royal 22e Regiment of Canada. This royal regiment is made up of mostly people from Québec and has a glorious history dating back to its inseption in the First World War. I asked, but they were not sure, however I believe they are the only Royal regiment in Canada and perhaps the British Commonwealth that is fully French-speaking.
The Citadel is the ceremonial home of the regiment and they usually have a changing of the guard ceremony. Unfortunately it was raining therefore they had to cancel the ceremony, yet I did see it last time I was there. I went on the tour and the guide was very helpful and knowledgeable of the Citadel and regiment.
After I was able to have a tour of the Governor General’s resident within the Citadel. We were a small group and we were able to see the residence and the wonderful works of art collected over the years. One of the amazing pieces was a gift to the city of Québec on their 400th birthday in 2008, from the hometown of Samuel de Champlain in France. It is a nine-foot high recreation of Champlain’s notebook with drawings recreated from his own notebooks. It was an impressive piece.
Another historical aspect was that this was the location of the Québec conference in 1943 between F.D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and William Lyon Mackenzie King. This conference was to discuss strategy and tactics during World War Two including the Battle of the Atlantic. I had almost forgotten this historical aspect if it weren’t for a painting and photographs of the conference.
Once the tour was completed I went into the Royal 22e Regiment of Canada museum that was in the Citadel. There were many artefacts and it chronicled the regiment’s story from its inception. One of the artefacts was this Nazi eagle the regiment captured as a war prise during their campaign in the Netherlands. It is made of iron or steel and the pieces look to be forged into winged feathers and other elements of the bird. It may have been a symbol of power and hate but the artistry and craftsmanship to create this piece is astounding. The other aspect I enjoyed is that this eagle was taken as a war prise for their service in helping to liberate the Netherlands from a hostile invasion force. This trophy stands in the museum as a symbol of the regiments sacrifice in blood to help people they did not know.
The day was very much like that for me. Visiting the past to remind me how much people from Canada sacrified to help maintain the freedom we have and sometimes take for granted. A freedom I am truly grateful for and days like this one reminds me to never forget how much the cost of freedom really costs.

Art Inspiration: Québec Trip / The Montréal Museum Of Fine Arts


Of course wherever I go art seems to find me, or do I find it? In Montréal I guess I found it. A friend told me about The Montréal Museum Of Fine Arts and I knew I had to at least take a look at what they had on display. The first thing I saw was that they had a collection of artworks for Pompeii, as a student of art and history I made it a point to be there.

The collection was amazing to see. Most of the works were obviously sculptures but they had amazing mosaics and in some cases frescos that were preserved by the volcanic ash and debris. They also showed water fixtures and other household items that were pieces of art. Even the money/coins were amazing to see.
The Museum also had exhibits of Toulouse-Lautrec: Illustrates the belle époque and a collection dedicate to Napoleon Bonaparte.   Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit had many illustrations that I was familiar with as much of his style is still used in modern caricature drawing. As well the Napoleon Bonaparte exhibit was a fascinating exhibition of artwork and relics that belonged to or was associated with the man.
Yet the one area of the display was a room that depicted erotic scenes both in mosaic and sculpture forms. The pieces were amazing to see but the really interesting thing was that many of these images were openly displayed in the home or for public viewing. I found this interesting because when these pieces were excavated in the mid-1800s many found them to be shocking and they were placed in a locked room were only a few people could see them. Even after years of debating it had limited viewing for only men, women and children were not allowed to see them. Not until this exhibition have these pieces been opened up for the entire public to see.
I found this interesting because it shows a dramatic shift in the way people view sexuality. With the ancient Romans and many cultures of the time, sexuality was open and free for expression, with some limitations. Yet now and as far back as a few centuries sexuality was limited to the bedroom or not even talked about. Only in resent years has society changed a little bit. However in North American culture it has not change that much. Yet in Québec I felt that there is a more openness to this subject that is very similar to the European cultures concept of sexuality.
Even when I went into the other exhibits like the Toulouse-Lautrec: Illustrates the belle époque. There I saw some of his illustrations that would depict some sexuality. Many were open and yet restrained when it came to the sexual content they would portray. Many of his work of women dancing in burlesque were seen as scandalous in many circles mostly puritan Victorian culture.   Yet those same beliefs are with us today.
The time I spent in The Montréal Museum Of Fine Arts was a truly an eye opening experience. I learned that art is the free expression of the artist and the person who displays it. That artist must sometimes take risks for their art. That risk is apart of art. My professor once said that many artists take risks for their art from the subject matter, medium used, to allowing other to see what they created. Yet with those risks the artist must also show courage for taking these risks. I have taken risks for my artwork and suffered for it, yet looking at all these different artists and the risks they took for their art it all seemed worth it.
I have to keep these words in mind …

‘Fortes Fortuna Iuvat (Fortune Favours The Brave)’ Latin Proverb

‘Risk is not something I take; it is part of my existence.’ Paul Gauchi

Friday Two Cents: Québec Trip / Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré And Area



Part of my trip to Québec was set aside for sight seeing the more scenic views of Québec and the surrounding area.

The first place my friend took me was to the famous and beautiful Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Yet before we went to the basilica we went into the Cyclorama of Jerusalem. It is in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec beside the basilica. It is a cyclorama or a circular painting of the crucifixion of Jesus. In the painting it shows what Jerusalem may have looked like at the time of the crucifixion.

On permanent display at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré since 1895 the painting was painted in 1890 by Paul Philippoteaux, a famous panoramist from Paris, assisted by five other painters: Salvador Mège (1854–1915) and Ernest Gros, of Paris, Charles Abel Corwin and O.D. Grover of Chicago and Edward James Austen (1850–1930) of London. It measures 14 by 110 metres (46 ft × 361 ft) and it claims to be one of the world’s biggest circular paintings.
Cyclorama of Jerusalem, City of Jerusalem

Cyclorama of Jerusalem, City of Jerusalem

After I went to the basilica. Words cannot do the site justice on the size or sheer beauty I witnessed, both inside and out. One of the amazing facts about the basilica is all the miracles that have taken place on this site. There are two pillars as you enter with crunches, canes and notes saying how St. Anne has healed them. The architecture and art of the basilica is that of old cathedrals in Europe dating back hundreds of years. The original chapel was built-in 1658 but it has grown and was rebuilt after a fire to what is standing at present.
That was the highlight of the day’s journey but I was still able to take in a lot of sight seeing from Île d’Orléans, where I took some nice photos of Québec across the river. As well I went to see Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, where I witnessed a striking waterfall along the Montmorency River that flows into the St. Lawrence.
I had been to Québec before but this time I had a friend who played tour guide. I guess it true to have a local to help you to see the culture and feel of a place.

Art Inspiration: Québec Trip / Art Is Everywhere





When I went to Québec I was fortunate to go with someone who grew up there. I told them that I was in their hands and that they were my guides. They are aware that I love the arts and they took me to places in the Old City of Québec that had many artists and artisans.

Along Saint Paul Street there are many galleries and artisans that would satisfy any art enthusiast. I could not take too many pictures of the artwork but it was a fabulous experience non-the less. Another place I went to was Le Petit Champlain, a small market area just down the hill from the Château Frontenac. There many artisans, artists, cafes, restaurants and merchants come together.   It is a beautiful place that has the feel of an old world market. There were many things to see but I was very impressed by a glass blower. I was able to take some photos for I was mesmerised by the skill and craftsmanship of the master.
Yet there are times when I did not just take in the traditional art but the artistic beauty of nature. Near my friends family home, there are a lot of wooded areas where the city has kept it as natural as possible. There I enjoyed the natural beauty and I even was able to eat a few wild black berries as I walked along the path.
From the natural surrounding to something equally as lovely, we went for a road trip outside Québec City to a place called le Domaine à l’Héritage near Saint-Séverin de Beauce. It is a pristine garden set in the middle of the country where people are welcome to enjoy nature and the garden as classical music is played throughout. There I saw many people bring out their dinners and enjoy a picnic, as did we. The place has many tables and reclining chairs for people to stay, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
The thing I found amazing is how easily everyone simply talked to one another. Strangers having conversations about anything that came up with other strangers. This is where I realized the whole ‘Joie de vivre’ that is so present in the Québec culture. It is everywhere, in everyone. The sad true is that something like this garden could never exist near Toronto because I could see people ruining it. There, the people made sure they cleaned up after themselves and they were respectful to everyone there and the environment.
Everywhere I went in Québec I found art. In the trees, the water, the air and the people. This is what life should be like, the joy of life, the joy of living. Of all the things I learned and brought back from Québec this ‘Joie de vivre’ is what I want to continue in my life. Perhaps not in Toronto but wherever I go I will strive for my own ‘Joie de vivre’.

Le Petit Champlain / Château Frontenac

Natural Beauty Near Québec

le Domaine à l’Héritage

Friday Two Cents: Québec Trip / Québec City



Last week I did not have a chance to post because I was in the middle of my trip to the province of Québec. I had not been to Québec in a very long time and I was fortunate this time to go with a friend from Québec City.

The trip to Québec City was a long one made worse with it raining for more than two-thirds of the over 9 hours it took to get there. I decided to drive because 1) I enjoy driving and 2) I would be going to different places in Québec including Montréal. The journey is usually an eight and a half hour trip yet due to the weather conditions it took just over 9 hours.
As I said I was fortunate to have a friend with me who was from Québec City. I know their mother and she said that I would always have a room welcome for me if I decided to come to visit. Upon arrival at our destination we were warmly welcomed by their family and that is where my education into Québec culture began.
I stayed in the Québec City area for several days and my friend and their family took me around the area as they played tour guide. I soaked up the local culture as well as the sights. I cannot put everything I did into one post therefore I will have to spread out the trip over several posts.
The first place they took me was the old city of Québec. There I saw the narrow streets and buildings and it reminded me of Malta. Québec was built or founded in 1608 and many of the cities in Malta date back even earlier. Yet there was a distinct European feeling I felt in the old city. We walked around the city for a bit and then we went down to Saint Paul Street to see a few galleries and artisans. My friend knows I enjoy art and this was like the artist corner of the city. There was a vibrant francophone culture present and you can see the roots of many of the founding people within the city. You can also see many Irish roots in the names of the streets, shops and pubs. I was not surprised by this because I know Canadian history and Québec is the oldest city in North America, yet some how I could feel it being in that place.
That day was filled with sights and sounds of history coming alive. Even in front of the Château Frontenac where the statue of Samuel de Champlain is located I could just feel history coming alive within me.
I had always known that Québec was a distinct culture within Canada yet not until I was immersed in it did I realize the extent.   Wherever I went in Québec I felt this, this feeling of ‘Joie de vivre’, joy of living, enjoyment of life or love of life. All of these meanings were so true about the people I met there. It felt like everything you do was a gift and you need to enjoy it. I noticed that in Toronto we do not have this philosophy, that you work and then you have fun. You enjoy life at specific times, yet I felt that people in Québec enjoyed life all the time, in everything they did. Work or play, joyous times or sad times. Life was a gift and we must enjoy the moment for this moment will never come again.
This ‘Joie de vivre’ really stuck with me for the entire trip and I intend to continue now that I am back home. I have felt that if you wanted to enjoy life people here in Toronto looked at you odd. You have to be serious at all times and only when it was appropriate can you enjoy life. Well not anymore. I will not have other people dictate that to me. From now on I will enjoy life to develop my ‘Joie de vivre’.
Ailish Sinclair

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