Ottawa Artist’s Paintings Reveal the Faces Behind the Ottawa Mission

0

“I want people to recognize that there are so many people who make the Mission a special place”

Content of the article

Ottawa artist Karen Bailey didn’t have to look far to find the subjects for her latest project, Portraits of the Ottawa Mission — they are her neighbours.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

“I’ve been a ByWard Market resident for 30 years,” says Bailey. “I saw a lot of people in need – homeless people, people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, people lying in the street – you see it all.

Content of the article

“I think people, like me, pass them by and all we see is desperation.”

Bailey’s wish is that people who come to see her new exhibition at the Ottawa Art Gallery leave with a sense of hope.

“What I didn’t realize was how much more the Mission is than just a plate of hot food and a bed for the night,” she says. “These are huge and very important areas, but The Mission has all these other services that you don’t think of.”

Originally trained in England in the art of calligraphy and heraldry, Bailey has spent over three decades painting in Ottawa. His work has focused on unrecognized and underrepresented workers, whether it’s the medical personnel of the Canadian Army in Afghanistan or the workhorses of Cundell Stables in the Byward Market. It was her friend “Big John”, a worker at Cundell who receives services at The Mission, who interested her in her latest project.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

Portraits of the Ottawa Mission is on view at the Ottawa Art Gallery until October 16.
Portraits of the Ottawa Mission is on view at the Ottawa Art Gallery until October 16. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Bailey spent 14 months working on the 31 paintings in the exhibit. The portraits cover everyone from CEO Peter Tilley to Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull and Wendy Muckle of Ottawa Inner City Health to board member Reverend Anthony Bailey to donors, benefactors and volunteers. There’s also Chef Ric Allen-Watson and his kitchen team, counselors, launderers and Mission customers like Luc, a former junior hockey player who now lives in supportive housing.

Some of Bailey’s acrylic on canvas paintings depict services such as the Day/Hope Counseling Program, The Mission’s clothing stores and dormitories, and Dr. Tom Harle and his dental practice.

“You don’t think about that – that someone on the street might have a toothache,” Bailey said. “So what are they going to do?” Or maybe they’re looking to see someone about housing. Or they want to improve their lives by enrolling in Chef Ric’s cooking program. It is open to all. All you need is desire.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

“I want people to recognize that there are so many people who make the Mission special. When I think of the Mission now, I realize that it is about a whole range of services and the hope it brings to its clients.

Portraits of the Ottawa Mission at the Ottawa Art Gallery.
Portraits of the Ottawa Mission at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

The project was carried out during the pandemic, which made the work more difficult. In some cases, his subjects came to Bailey’s to sit for portraits. COVID-19 outbreaks sometimes meant its access was restricted. One particularly haunting painting shows men lined up in front of a food truck on a freezing, snowy winter day when the Mission was closed.

Portraits create a different intimacy than what you’ll see in a photograph.

“When you paint a portrait, you look them straight in the eye and ask them questions,” Bailey said.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

“When people have their portraits painted, they trust you. People are used to having their picture taken, but they are not used to seeing themselves on the web. ”

Portraits of the Ottawa Mission are on display in the Sky Lounge on the third floor of the Ottawa Art Gallery until October 16. From the gallery’s wide windows, you can look down Waller Street and see the action outside the Mission’s gates. The reverse is also true. Bailey tells a story of one of her portrait subjects.

“It was evening and he was downstairs – the Mission is just across the street, of course. And he looked up and thought, ‘Look at the paintings! He knew his portrait was here. .

Portraits of the Ottawa Mission is on view at the Ottawa Art Gallery until October 16.
Portraits of the Ottawa Mission is on view at the Ottawa Art Gallery until October 16. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia
  1. Food inflation remains stubbornly high in Canada as grocery prices climbed at the fastest pace in more than four decades last month.

    Inflation pushes Ottawa food bank use to record highs

  2. Forough AliKarami, right, seen here with Chef Ric Allen-Watson, is part of the first class of the Ottawa Mission's catering program at the former Rideau Bakery.

    Ottawa Mission food program in former Rideau Bakery launches first graduates

Advertisement 1

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Share.

Comments are closed.