Canada Day at the FCA !
By Helen Duckworth
FCA Administrative Assistant
Canada Day at the FCA was a big hit for July 1st 2014, the Federation
Gallery on Granville Island welcomed over 1,300 visitors who came to see, enjoy, celebrate and get creative for Canada Day.
Preparation for this event began in early June, with staff and volunteer meetings held to come up with ideas. In the past the FCA has had plein air painters posted on location around the island, this year the FCA decided to kick it up a notch and offered three different attractions for guests.
As the plein air painters were so popular in previous years, we decided to keep to this tradition. Artists June Harman and Jill Charuk kindly offered to volunteer their time for the day and their artwork for the promotional visual advertisements that were to accompany the event. Two posters were created, one for each artist as in the design process trying to blend the each artist’s style didn’t do them justice. It felt appropriate considering the FCA’s colors are blue and white and the colors typically associated with Canada Day are red and white, we had an image to reflect not only both artists, but our organization and the nature of the event we were hosting as well.
We were also to offer guided tours of the ‘Summer Gallery’ exhibition, the intent behind which was to encourage people who aren’t frequent gallery or museum visitors into the art environment in an easily accessible, interactive and non-intimidating way. The icing on the top would be that these tours would also highlight and showcase our talented exhibiting artists.
The final activity was designed to encourage families, youth and children into the FCA. This hands-on activity allowed guests to create a maple leaf from on-site supplies,and add it to tapestry-style banner flags hung outside the gallery windows. The inspiration behind this idea came from a desire to create a collaborative community project. Visually, the FCA logo was also an inspiration. Our logo is in the style of a heraldic flag. These flags are most commonly associated with medieval Europe, and were usually hung on poles as opposing kingdoms went to battle, or displayed outside castles featuring the family crest. (Think ‘Game of Thrones’ and you’ll probably get a good idea). The fact that the FCA logo and Canada Day both celebrate the symbol of the maple leaf sealed the fate of this leaf as a visual motif for the project.
Before the public participated in the activity, the FCA gave local Granville Island businesses the opportunity to make a leaf and have it displayed on the day. A few enthusiastic businesses ran with the idea. Did you see The Inukshuk, The Fibre Arts Studio, The Artisan Sake Maker and Ainsworth Custom Design’s maple leaves gracing our flags?
The day before the event, volunteer Elizabeth Sommerville assisted with gallery staff in the decoration of the gallery space. We had flags, banners, balloons, streamers, table cloths and more. It was quite the occasion!
Final preparation started early on Canada Day, around 8.15 am with tents and tables set up on location for plein air painters, an activity station set up out front and a refreshment table adorned with cookies, coffee as kindly donated by Starbucks, and a special Canada Day Cake. Volunteer Jenny Sun arrived for her shift on the front desk and June Harman and Jill Charuk arrived to set up at their tents. Catherine Fraser kindly volunteered for the activity station for the morning, and she did not have chance to think before children and families started to gather for their chance to add to our project.
Doreen Issak, Gene O’Archangelo and Linda Bell arrived for their orientation as FCA Ambassadors. A new volunteer role for FCA events, we’re hoping to have a roster of all-star volunteers at FCA events to promote our organization and educate visitors and guests about who we are and what we do. Our Ambassadors did just that on the day, handing out the new 2014 Fall Education Program, our new rack cards, directing people to the gallery and making them aware of what activities were going on at the Federation throughout the day.
At around noon, the cake was served, much to the surprise and delight of visitors. Some mistook our humble offering as the Canada Day cake, as in Granville Island Canada Day tradition, there is a large cake cutting ceremony with free cake given to visitors elsewhere on the island. Small but delicious, our cake went well within the hour !
Volunteer Maryam Geesing relieved Jenny of her duties on the front desk, as the gallery only got busier throughout the afternoon, Staff and volunteers also ran frequent ‘gopher’ trips to check on our plein air painters and FCA Ambassadors, to make sure they were fed, watered, and didn’t miss out on cake!
Sadly the 1pm and 3pm tours did not take place, but this was mainly due to the fact that our other activities were so popular, hands were needed elsewhere! That and the sheer volume of visitors in the gallery space at any one time would not allow for a group to explore the exhibition together in comfort. Informal guided tours are something that the FCA are looking to offer in the future for visiting tourists and school groups. Let us know
in the comments section if you would attend an FCA tour.
As the day progressed, a few unexpected things happened, firstly it wasn’t just children, families and youth who took to making maple leaves. Adults and retirees were accepting the challenge to be part of a collaborative art project. The Maple Mural Tapestry activity also became an unlikely photo opportunity for visitors! Tourists and locals liked the tapestry style banner flags so much they were taking group and family pictures in front of them to share online and with their loved ones in other provinces and even other countries!
The popularity of the activity meant that we could have continued to offer it until the gallery was due to close at 6pm, but all the FCA activities wound down at about 4pm. The success of the event was not only measured in the amount of people through the gallery that day, but it was evident on the faces of the children enthusiastically making their maple leaves, the visitors taking rest-bite from the heat and enjoying a coffee in a space they’ve never been to before, and the families sharing and exploring the Summer Gallery exhibition together.
The activities the FCA held on Canada Day 2014 weren’t only promotional tools for the organization, but they were a marked step towards our goals of making art education and the role of the artist more accessible and relevant to contemporary society. That and well it was Canada’s birthday! O’Canada !