Celebrations and ceremonies are at the core of what we do at Making Room. Every project of ours is made up of rituals and festivities large and small, and culminate in one great event, be it a book launch, a parade, a market, or whatever else brings together the work of a term.
This winter, we decided that instead of having one busy, elaborate, over the top celebration, that we’d instead bring as many people as possible into the process of creating such an event. To that end, we decided to create a three day pop-up celebration in the Healing Room at PARC, where we have our Sand In Water workshops. Over the course of December 10th, 11th, and 12th, dozens of individuals and groups from PARC, Edmond Place, and our larger community took part in adding their own gestures and offerings to the space.
Fittingly, we named the event One Small Gesture, hoping to evoke the way that the efforts and ideas of everyone, on whatever scale, contribute to the work we make at PARC.
Read on to learn about the many different activities, both planned and spontaneous, that joined together in a truly magical three days. Warning — the following is a picture-heavy post! Thank you to Jess Shane, Sonja Rainey, and Gill Fraser for their photography.
On Wednesday, we kicked everything off with a performance from Making Room Choir as a part of the weekly jam at PARC. The group, under the direction of Shifra Cooper and with support from Jess Shane and Lisa Bozikovic, received much applause from the busy drop-in centre audience, singing a rendition of Gordon Bok’s “Toward the Morning” and a round about Autumn.
After lunch, before the drop-in closed, Making Room artists Jess Shane and Sonja Rainey activated an overhead projector play called “A Day In Parkdale,” which asks the question: what would it look like if we all decided that a normal day in Parkdale would be special?
The projector play was a big hit, with musical accompaniment by Lisa Bozikovic and soundscapes by the choir. But at the end of it, PARC member and fashion superstar Nicholaz tore down the screen and exclaimed, in true PARC fashion, “Why talk about all this stuff, when we could just do it?”
Following his lead, and a good deal of commotion, a procession of candles and teacups (prepared by Shelley La Hay) led over thirty-five members to the Healing Room, where Nicholaz tore down the paper over the door and revealed the total transformation that had taken place in there.
Sharing tea and conversation, and admiring the many pieces of art and decorations on display, PARC members eventually settled down to make paper accordions and other decorations to add to the room. With our hands busy, we sang songs together all afternoon, some familiar, some new, and some totally improvised.
To conclude our first day, we each took a turn hanging up one of the unique handmade books members of Making Room co-authored and created in October. Each person read the title of each book and left it on a string beside our Sound Gesture Poem Book, which served as intuitive inspiration for the smaller books.
On Thursday, we opened the room at noon, and soon it was buzzing with familiar faces and new visitors who had heard that something was going on upstairs. Some people noticed that the white fabric covering the window-shapes on the walls had come off a bit, exposing just a bit more of the gorgeous embroidery hidden beneath. Others began to embroider the seat covers that members had designed the week before, which continued throughout the three day event.
Around 2 o’clock, one of Making Room’s core members, Alice Rogers, led a workshop on her favorite artform: the zentangle. Alice is a visual and textile artist in her own right, and has developed her own style of “zen doodle” drawing that is absolutely astounding and immediately recognizable. She decorated the windows of the healing room with zentangles in white marker, which has remained mounted in the room.
During the workshop, Alice demonstrated her technique on the overhead projector and worked with attendees on creating their own zentangle art on sheets of acetate.
As Alice directed people through this meditative drawing process, Making Room artist Jonathan Valelly was next door at Edmond Place with the resident art group there, as well as student intern Nicole Manteiga. The small but dedicated band of Edmond Place artists finished creating their wire stalactites and their accompanying hand made art books. As the sun set outside, the group marched over to the Healing Room and ceremonially raised the stalactites together, also hanging their books along the wall to accompany them.
This ceremony closed the day on Thursday, and we were all rested and ready for our final fantastic day on Friday.
We were super excited to be joined by Leah Houston from our sister company, MABELLEarts, for our afternoon workshop in the drop-in area of PARC. Picking up on our extensive use of paper art and our theme of gestures big and small, Leah led an activity adding images and memories of gestures and acts of kindness to receipt paper, which we then raised to the ceiling of our transformed Healing Room.
Meanwhile, the PARC yoga group and writing group both held their workshops in the Healing Room space, working with the idea of gestures in their workshops as well.
But nothing compared to the big closing ceremony on Friday evening. At 5:30, dozens of people from the PARC community, from our Jumblies and larger community arts community, and our friends and family joined us in the healing room for one last hurrah. Sharing soup, bread, and tea, visitors were treated to a second performance of “A Day In Parkdale” — but this time, with the addition of work from Alice’s zentangle workshop.
After the show, Artistic Director Michael Burtt took a moment to thank all of our funders, as well as many friends and visitors, giving each of them one of the handmade pillows Making Room created as a part of PARC’s delegation to the National Housing Day Rally. Each had messages form members about what if means to feel safe, soft, and sleep well, versus what it means to feel insecure, vulnerable, and cold.
After all was done, the Making Room Choir performed a few more songs, including a beautiful Scottish-Irish traditional called “The Parting Glass.”
Overall, the three days were completely unforgettable, and even more replete with creativity and community than we could ever have expected.