An Open Letter to Mayor Watson and Councillor Chernushenko
I’m writing about a community initiated art installation that was recently removed from outside the Glebe Community Centre and surrounding city property.
A group of knitters from across the city worked very hard for months preparing to yarn bomb the GCC. On the evening of May 25 (timed to coincide with the Great Glebe Garage Sale the following day), members of 4 families spent several hours sewing, tying and otherwise gently attaching knitted banners, tubes and other embellishments – with the full support of the GCC staff who were present at the time.
The only feedback we received from anyone was entirely positive. However, the following Monday morning, GCC staff notified us that much of our work had been removed. The next day, it was all gone.
I understand that one person’s art is another’s eyesore and that anyone who leaves anything on city property risks its removal. We knew the impermanence of what we were doing. I just didn’t expect every piece to be removed so quickly (down to the little monster feet at the bottom of poles, knit birds in a tree and a colourful cozy brightening up a bike rack).
What is the hardest part to understand is why no one from the city attempted to reach our group. The GCC staff knew how to find us (they passed along several supportive notes to us) and our web site address (frivolknitty.com) was knit right into two of our banners. Had we been given the chance, we would have happily come to take down our work. Did it really make sense to pay city staff to do what we would have done for free? Would it not have been better for us to reclaim the pieces we’d worked on, instead of having everything end up in a landfill?
The four families who did the yarn bombing have all been intimately affected by breast cancer. We know very well that nothing lasts forever. We also know the importance of compassion, community and humour.
Many years ago, when I lived elsewhere, my friends used to refer to Ottawa as “the city that fun forgot.” Since moving here in 1996, I have come to love this city with a passion and to defend it fiercely.
Last week, I feel that my city let me down.
p.s.: You can read, see and watch more about us at frivolknitty.com.
Cc: Glebe Report