“The Ghosts of Heritage Past”
Joan Hug-Valeriote 2004
Cotton, photos printed on silk organza
12” h x 35” w
Black and white photographs of demolished heritage buildings from Guelph, Ontario, have been printed on silk organza and layered over colour photos of the buildings that replaced them. The demolished structures were the Carnegie Library, the Customs and Excise Building and the Bank of Commerce with its turret at the corner of old Quebec Street – the real “Old Quebec Street”.
I remember the buildings in this “photo album” with fondness and regret. In Europe, great effort is made to at least retain the façades of historical buildings and streetscapes. We are too quick to dismiss our grand historical buildings as uneconomical and demolish them, often replacing them with unimaginative “shoe boxes”.
This quilt was inspired by the threatened demolition of the Loretto convent in Guelph in 2004. Eventually funding was provided from the federal and provincial governments and from local private fund-raising to begin the renovation of the convent and its conversion into a municipal museum. Shortly afterwards, the historic Gummer Building façade on Douglas St. was retained after a disastrous fire that destroyed the interior of the building and a new building was constructed behind it by Skyline.
This quilt has been previously displayed in the Grand National Juried Quilt Show: “Constructions” in the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, the St. Jacobs Quilt Gallery, the Oshawa Art Quilt show, the Guelph Public Library, the Royal City Quilters’ Guild show “A Gathering of Quilts” and the York Heritage Quilters’ Guild’s “A Celebration of Quilts”, as well as “Still Standing” at the Alma Gallery in Guelph.
You are welcome to lift the top “ghost” layer with clean hands, to see the buildings underneath.