Sunday, October 18, 2015

Griffintown exhibit at Centre d'Histoire de Montréal

G.Scott MacLeod is a 50-year-old Montreal artist-activist who grew up across the street from me in Hudson, QC. His media include painting, drawing, music and film-making. Until August 2016, MacLeod's work Dans L'Griff is on display at the Centre d'Histoire de Montréal in Place d'Youville.

The exhibit tells the story of Griffintown, its past, present and future. MacLeod uses his small sketches in graphite or coloured pencil on Mylar to illustrate 20 or so landmarks of the Montreal neighbourhood. Videos of the sketches in progress give us a sense of how the artist works, and the landmarks are located on a large map for easy reference. The visitor is taken on a tour of some of the landmarks, with several video stations featuring narrative about the significance and history of the various sites. 

Through photographs and film, we gain an understanding of the sense of community that made Griffintown so special in the past, the forces that led to its decline and the issues around its current rebirth. The Mercier family, mother, father and son, who grew up in the Irish-settled neighbourhood share their memories of daily life and their concerns about the choices that Montreal is now making in its redevelopment. At this point, it is predicted that the population will quickly grow by 20 - 30,000, and yet there are no plans for a school or green space that help give social cohesion to a community. 

MacLeod's process is represented by a replica of his workspace, with his drawing tools and reference photos on display. Visitors are invited to share their thoughts by completing postcards at his desk and posting them.

Though not well-known, this museum is worth a visit, for this exhibit and others. The building itself, a former fire station, has many interesting architectural aspects, including a glassed walkway that affords an elevated view of the area. Allow at least an hour to enjoy Dans L'Griff.

No comments: