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Building Bridges Gallery Opening with the Arran-Elderslie Youth Council

By Fianna McKnight

On March 19, 2022, The Arran-Elderslie Youth Council, Trinity Theatre and the Paisley Artscape Society came together to hold the Building Bridges Gallery Opening at Bonfire on Queen. This event was the big reveal of local artists’ interpretations of the seniors’ storytelling on AE Archives!

AE Archives is a podcast created within the Building Bridges project that details the lives of seniors from Arran-Elderslie. Each episode takes into account the interviewee’s life and focuses on one of the seven community pillars: civic structure, commerce, environment, art, history and heritage, faith, and health.

These interviews were designed and conducted by volunteers from the Youth Council!

At the event on the 19th, the senior interviewees were finally able to see the finished pieces and meet the artists. The pairs were able to connect over the stories and the many merits of living in Arran-Elderslie, and follow-up podcasts were recorded to showcase the artists’ process and how they connected to the stories told in the podcast episodes. You might hear a familiar voice in the new interviews– the original co-host, Ezra Padbury, did a fantastic job interviewing the artists and seniors together on Saturday!

The gallery opening drew in many curious onlookers eager to see what was happening at the restaurant! Dozens of people came and went throughout the afternoon, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. A community painting was led by artist Susan Seitz for the duration of the event, and all attendees were invited to add a few brushstrokes to a scenic landscape of one of Paisley’s rivers.

The Building Bridges project is dedicated to placemaking to connect all members of the community, particularly youth and seniors. Placemaking is the act of strengthening the connection between the people of a community and the places they share by highlighting and utilizing the community’s assets. Forging these intergenerational relationships is integral to increasing sustainability and longevity of the community, and the Building Bridges project strives to do just that. This project provided youth with the opportunity to interact with local seniors and build strong connections, and then afforded the same opportunity to artists of all ages.

The stunning artwork created as a result of this project will be hanging in Bonfire on Queen for a few weeks to come! Stop in at the restaurant for a bite to eat and check out the amazing pieces with deep ties to our lovely community.

A huge thank you goes out to this project’s sponsor, New Horizons for Seniors. We would also like to thank all of the artists and seniors involved in this amazing project, Susan Seitz for hosting our community painting, and the planning team of members from Trinity Theatre and the Paisley Artscape Society. This project would not have been possible without every one of you!

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