Public art has the ability to represent and celebrate the identity of a place. As an architecture firm specializing in built heritage and cultural values, we are increasingly interested in how art and other placemaking interventions can not only represent unique histories but do so in a way that transforms underused spaces into thriving places for community.
We’re seeing this idea come to fruition through Small, which works with communities to express cultural heritage in a tangible way.
In November, local residents, the Township of King and Small celebrated the opening of Memory’s Gate, a new public art installation in Laskay, a rural village located northwest of Toronto.
Together with the Township of King’s Parks, Recreation and Culture department and the public art committee, Small created an architectural installation that recognizes the heritage of the village – both intangible and tangible.
Memory’s Gate is a weathered steel archway etched with lines from the poem that served as its inspiration – “Musings at Memory’s Gate” by King City’s Reverend Martin Jenkinson. The poem, written in 1953 and included in the Laskay Women’s Institute 60th Anniversary Portfolio in 1968, speaks to community connectivity across generations.
The Gate connects tangible and intangible heritage of the village with the ever-changing landscape of the Humber River Valley. The artists hope to inspire contemplation and reflection for those who take rest upon the bench, which is fastened to a boulder that once sat outside the historic Laskay hall.
We’re thrilled the piece is already sparking conversation and remembrance for the Laskay community. At the unveiling, community members gathered to hear about the piece and to share their own memories of the village from decades past.
ERA and Small would like to thank those who helped shape the project along the way, as well as the Township of King for the wonderful placemaking opportunity. A special thank you to the Laskay Women’s Institute, who granted the reproduction rights of the poem on the gate and bench, and to FILOTIMO for providing excellent collaborative approach to Memory Gate’s fabrication and installation.
Learn more about Small, a initiative developed by ERA that works with rural and remote communities across Canada to express their unique cultural values, whether that be through artistic installations like Memory’s Gate, or with the revitalization of local main streets and creation of visionary masterplans.