Dept. of Illumination lining up busy May

Illuminating A fire thrower performs at the 2019 Firelight Lantern Festival organized by the Department of Illumination. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette file photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

Prince Edward County’s Department of Illumination will be busy next month, hosting a pair of public art events in Picton.

Over the winter, the local art luminaries teamed up with Kick Start Arts on a new project: Circles of Joy. Toronto’s Kick Start Arts uses the arts to empower students, youth and adults to express themselves through the creative process, and in doing so, engages diverse communities in thought and collaboration.

While the ground was frozen and snowflakes dotted the sky, the two organizations facilitated a heartwarming series of online storytelling workshops sharing stories of joy. From these workshops, almost thirty audio stories were recorded and are now housed in an online Archive of Joy.

A selection of 18 artists of various disciplines from PEC and Toronto were then invited to choose a story from the archive and create an artistic response to it. All of this culminates in an in-person festival on May 14 at Picton’s Macaulay Heritage Park where the public are invited to experience these joyful artistic creations.

It will be a day of interactive fun, including live music, dance, art installations, puppets, food and more!

Tickets are available now on Eventbrite.

Later in the month of May, The Department of Illumination and South Shore Joint Initiative are bringing together the arts and sciences, honouring the natural world around us with WILD THING: a celebration of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. Every species — including humans — is connected and relies on each other to survive. Prince Edward County contains an astonishing level of biodiversity which we must all work together to protect.

WILD THING is comprised of three key elements: • School workshops where children will learn about a local wetland species with Cheryl Chapman from NatureHood-PEPtBO and then work with artist Andrea Piller to create a puppet or costume piece of the species;

• Embroidery club The Society of Stitchers has been busy stitching images of local species at risk at the Department of Illumination studio; these images are being quilted into a banner;

• And finally, a public celebration in Picton’s Benson Park on May 22, the International Day for Biological Diversity. This event will feature live music from KASHKA and That’s What She Said, crafts and activities, giant puppets, and a lively community procession.

SSJI are a charity working to permanently protect and improve biodiversity along Prince Edward County’s internationally recognized South Shore, Canada’s largest and last undeveloped Lake Ontario natural landscape and shoreline. The Department of Illumination is a not-for-profit organization aiming to bring joy and creativity to the people of Prince Edward County through festivals, workshops and other artistic events.

This is the first collaboration between these two organizations.  Workshops and community celebration are an opportunity to deepen our bonds both with each other as well as with the natural world around us and all programming is free of charge thanks to funding from the Huff Family Fund.