Base31 flies high with unveiling of Aviator’s Garden

Revered performer Andy Forgie was just one of several artists taking part in a celebratory opening at Base31 Saturday. The former World War II-era base is quickly transforming into a dynamic and accessible hub. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)




Base31 is aiming to be a base of County activity in the years to come and to help locals and visitors get acquainted with that concept, the group hosted a welcoming event this past weekend.

The celebration offered a host of of free activities by local artists, three food and beverage vendors, a historical walking tour and a number of different musical artists to enjoy.

“This is a really exciting moment for our team and for everyone who has helped us,” expressed Assaf Weisz, Chief Placemaking Officer at Base31. “As you can tell, this is a place in progress, we are building it in real time. A big part of that has to do with the role of arts and culture and helping us tell the story of this place. We think about this site as this incredible canvas for story telling, for telling many different stories. Today, we are unveiling a series of seven paintings that all respond to the theme called ‘Nature’s Aviators’ and its set in the aviator gardens which was wonderfully designed and put together by PTLA Studio. The transformation that has happened in this kind of parcel of space, over the last few months is really mind boggling and hopefully it becomes a place for people to sit, relax, slow down and take in some of the sights and sounds but also reflect on some of the things that make this place special.”

Roper & Roper . (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

In reverence of all things that fly, Base31 invited artists to help them explore the theme of “Nature’s Aviators”. In April, Base31 published a formal call for submissions for large scale original works to be installed on the exterior of one of their buildings.

Portia Chapman (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

Base 31 commissioned this series of artworks that meaningfully explore the theme of Nature’s Aviators; who and what they are, what roles they play, how they navigate in three dimensions, and what symbolic importance they hold.

The selected artists and their winning submissions include: (from left to right when facing the building)

  • “Hirundo Rustica” by Vanessa B. Rieger
  • “Warbler Watching” by Portia “Po” Chapman
  • “Migratory Metamorphosis” by Steph Payne
  • “Bird/Wall” by Bill Greaves
  • “Murmuration” by Frank Hannan
  • “Pilots and Barracks” by Milé Murtanovski
  • “A World of Flight and Aviation to Appreciate” by Constance Intounas (other side of building) 

“The historic tie into aviation here, first Camp Picton, then Loch Sloy and today Base31 has a long affiliation with aviation and with the skies,” Weisz stated to the crowd. “Given the amount of work we are putting into to kind of try to regenerate the landscape and also given that human flight started to begin with looking to birds and winged insects and natures fliers for both ideas about how to take to the skies but also the mechanics on how to do that, it felt appropriate that the first kind of public art call that we did was focussed around the theme of aviation, both human made and in the natural world. Thank you too all the artists.”

Parking looked a bit different for people who have come to the site before as parking was off of Kingsley Road.

Local falafel and shawarma stand Shway Shway Takeaway, handmade pierogi vendor Pinched Pierogi and a cool and sweet treat vendor Sam Squared Ice Cream Sandwiches were all at the event.

“I haven’t seen the full site yet but its definitely great to have a buzz around the place,” said local community member, Ewa Bedarczuk. “All these different plans for art culture ecology, it feels great so I’m here to check it out.”

Music from retro musical duo Roper & Roper, local band The Rickartons and Andy Forgie were all playing music throughout the base.

Other entertainment and activities included The Department of Illumination creating a mural out of post-its, the Pluto Love Tenderness Academy performing spoken word, Fantastic Face & Body Art with free airbrush tattoos and balloon twisting, Picton’s favorite stilt walker Milé Murtanovski, Baxter Arts Centre, The Prince Edward Flying Club and more.

“I think the changes to what is now Base31 are jaw dropping and extraordinary,” Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson said to The Gazette. “Just this little portion of the site we are looking at now (Aviator’s Garden) and the way it has been recreated by Victoria Taylor and the team at Base 31 just sets an entirely different feel to what we’ve known and loved about Camp Picton for decades. So to see this transformation and the engagement and seeing people wandering around the crowds and enjoying themselves on a particular beautiful day is just a terrific indicator of what we see now and what may come in the future, it’s really going to be interesting and the team behind this is just extraordinary and have done a terrific job.”

For more information on Base31 please visit