ELORA – The Elora Centre for the Arts is ready to send you down the garden path now that their pathways project is complete.
The Paths that Connect Us is a trail. It’s an art installation. It’s a place to get away from the hubbub of the village. A place to connect with nature. A place to connect with people and with the other existing trails and walkways in Elora.
“The theme of connection is evident throughout the project – in the sculptures and art installations and with the pathways themselves, that lead to other pathways within the community,” said executive director Lianne Carter in an email.
The art centre received two grants that helped fund the project: $20,000 from the federal Healthy Communities Initiative, earmarked for projects that build safe, vibrant outdoor spaces; and a grant from the Trillium Foundation contributed to a section of the path that features work created through the centre’s supportive arts program.
The art centre held a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 4.
Carter said there are two acres of property around the art centre and officials wanted to make use of it all.
There’s a plan to add an acoustic pavilion in the fall, that will be a great place for outdoor concerts and other functions. And the centre is planning an expansion to the building itself to add more gallery space indoors.
“There’s still lots of open space though,” Carter said in an interview.
“All our plans will dovetail to create a truly community space.”
The path follows the perimeter of the property and there are way-finding signs and maps to show how this path connects with existing biking trails, the Elora Gorge, Bissell Park and several walking routes downtown.
Several artists have contributed their talents to the project, including map artist Julie Denneny, student artist Alura Sutherland, sculpture artist Erin Perry, sculpture artist Mike Hintermeister, and several Supportive Arts participants from the art centre’s outreach program.
You’ll see large canvasses with bold colours and nature scenes. Each art installation has a QR code that visitors can scan to find out more about how each artist created their piece.
Participants in the supportive arts program decorated paddles with inspiring words and they are hanging in trees.
“There’s so much symbolism with those paddles,” Carter said, adding they pay respect to the Grand River, are testament to the power of water and nature, and are meant to be encouraging for those who stop and look.
“The way they hang there and catch in the wind, they are floating paddles of hope,” she said.
Carter hopes people will check it out purposefully but also hopes those who stumble upon the path by accident will be charmed and delighted with what they see.
After a rough two years of isolation and separation, “I hope it will be an engaging space to reconnect with each other, with art and with nature,” she said.