Guardians at the Gates

While located 1000’s of kilometres apart, and hundreds of years different in age, the following two sculptures have much in common.

The village of Saint Jean Pied de Port is located at the base of the Pyrenees in south-western France. It is one of the departure points for walkers and pilgrims on the St. James Way of the Camino de Santiago, before they cross the border into Spain.

A sculpture of a shepherd, carrying a staff and caring for a lamb, is perched above the Porte d’Espagne in Saint Jean Pied de Port. The shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port is a symbol of caring and guidance, protecting all of the pilgrims who pass under the gate at the commencement of their journey.

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the shepherd of Saint Jean Pied de Port

Ryerson University is a post-secondary institution which has a large campus in the heart of downtown Toronto, Canada. Kerr Hall is one of the primary buildings on the campus, and it was constructed in the form of a square, enclosing an open green space in the centre (the Quad). There are two portals that open onto the streets at the north and south ends. Above the south entry gate, there is a statue of an ice hockey goalie.

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the goalie of Ryerson

The goalie of Ryerson can be viewed as the protector of all those who pass through the gate to enter the campus. I am sure that only in Canada would this metaphor of a goalie as a guardian be accepted and understood. A shepherd with his staff can be universally understood – at least within the Christian ethos – to be a guardian. But a goalie with his hockey stick is a truly Canadian phenomenon. Of course, for some Canadians, hockey is a religion, so it goes without saying that the symbolism of a goalie is well understood.

It would be interesting to see more examples of guardians like these from other parts of the world. If any readers have some images or suggestions, please respond.

Discovering Toronto Heritage – by Accident

I recently discovered this preserved building facade during an exploratory walk in downtown Toronto. The Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries signage was created in full Art Nouveau style, and I am sure that this is a rare example of the preservation of this architectural style in Toronto.

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Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries – Now

After further investigation, I have found the following historical facts. This building was incorporated into a high-rise condominium known as The Gallery which was opened in 1990. The architects for this development were Kirkor Archiects and Planners. The original building was designated as a Part IV heritage building in 1984, whicch meant that the sign and facade had to be incorporated into the new structure.

The original gallery was designed by¬†Sproatt & Rolph Architects, who designed many well known buildings in Toronto. It dates back to the early 1900’s when it was the primary importer of antique mahogany and rosewood furniture in Toronto. I found the accompanying archival photo of the original building.

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Jenkins Antique and Art Galleries – Then

The Journeys

St. Cuthbert played an important role in the early introduction of Christianity to the people of northern Britain in the 7th Century. Cuthbert first became a Prior in Melrose, Scotland, and then moved on to become the Prior at Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Following his death as Bishop of Lindisfarne in 687, he was buried at Lindisfarne Priory.

St. Cuthbert’s relics later became important religious artefacts. Amid the threat of Viking invasions, St. Cuthbert’s relics were transported to various locations between 875 and 1104, when they were moved to a shrine in the new cathedral of Durham, where they are still located.

Over the past four years, we have travelled to the UK on our journey to retrace the steps of St. Cuthbert. In 2015, we walked on St. Cuthbert’s Way, from Melrose to Lindisfarne. We returned by car in 2018 to visit Lindisfarne and Durham. Our stay in Lindisfarne included participating in an archaeological dig to help discover the site of the original priory on the island. We also toured the Open Treasure exhibit and the Shrine of St. Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral.

A modern homage to the journey of St. Cuthbert’s relics is housed inside the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, located adjacent to the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. ‘The Journey’ was created by English sculptor Fenwick Lawson and installed in the church in 2009. This sculpture was carved from seven elm trees and depicts six monks from Holy Island carrying the coffin of St. Cuthbert to safety.

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the Journey

 

My image of The Journey has been edited in Photoshop with the intent to depict the historical theme of the sculpture.

Convenience Stores – Introduction

Toronto is a city made up of many neighbourhoods. And most of these neighbourhoods still have their convenience store.

We can all remember a few of our past experiences with our local convenience store when we were growing up. It was a short walk or bike ride away, a place to meet up with friends, a confectionary store where we could spend our allowance or pocket money.

I am embarking on a mission to photograph many of the local convenience stores in Toronto, and present them in a photographic style that I am experimenting with. My first two images are included in this post, and I hope to add to this collection in the coming months.

I would also like to learn more about how these stores can continue to survive in today’s environment of rising real estate values, large chain stores and the continued reliance on cars as the primary means of transport.

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Sunshine Convenience
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Iren’s Grocery

Toronto Storefronts as Art

I have been experimenting lately with a technique in Photoshop on some images of storefronts. The technique involves creating a “cartoon-like” black and white image with black outlines and shading, and then selectively re-introducing colour back into the image.

My first series of images focuses Toronto storefronts. These are small businesses that I usually just stumbled across while walking along the street. Each storefront has something unique that made it worthwhile to capture.

Each image has been framed using an outline, shape, pattern or colour that is derived from the storefront. For example, I found a background of bats to include with the image titled Protected by Witchcraft, as there are bats depicted in the sign above the shop. In The Lucky Spot, I framed the image with a white ring as a play on the word “spot.”

Each storefront has a door, which is my pretext for posting these images on a Thursday in order to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors blog.

I plan on creating more Storefront Art images in the future, so please follow along on my Flickr site or stay tuned for another blog post. Any and all comments are welcome.

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The Lucky Spot
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BBQ Express
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The Pomegranate
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Protected by Witchcraft

Gates (and Walls)

Whereas doors are generally associated with entries to a building, or interior walls of buildings, gates are usually associated with exterior walls or fences. Gates can be similar to doors – they are usually hinged, and they may have a latch or opening mechanism. You can usually see through a gate, so you have a better idea of what is on the other side before you get there.

I have selected a few images of gates from the UK as a variation on the theme of doors for my first Thursday Doors post of the new year.

The first gate image is a favourite of mine, as it includes my first name. You can see through the gate and peer into the dark and mysterious Nicholas Wood.

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Nicholas Wood

The next two images continue with the theme of gates incorporated into the landscape. The gate at the entry to a public footpath is hinged and has a spring to keep it closed, in order to keep the sheep on the other side of the drystone wall. The second gate stands alone on the edge of a farmer’s field, while the fence has disappeared. I like to think that gates are more important and enduring than fences (or walls), as they allow for the movement of people, thoughts and ideas.

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public footpath gate
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lone gate

The next two gates are associated with walls. We have heard a lot of talk about walls recently, so I won’t contribute to the hubris. I will simply restate my preference for gates.

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red gate
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twin gates

The last two gates are associated with final resting places. The graveyard gate provides a vision to a place of burial, as well as to the ocean and the sky beyond.

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graveyard gate

For many people in the past, this final gate was a one way gate, which subsequently led to a beheading or another form of execution. Many prisoners accused of treason were taken to the Tower of London along the Thames River and through the Traitors’ Gate during the Tudor era in England.

This gate was originally called the Water Gate, when it was built for King Edward I, and these types of gates are now referred to as watergates. Ironic name, isn’t it?

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Traitors’ Gate