All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Wellington Water Week makes a big splash

Children move to the beat of Jennifer Gasoi’s fun songs in her interative family show.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The lakeside village of Wellington was swept up in a wave of performances, interactive events, concerts, art and more in a week-long celebration of water.

The flood of events filled ‘Water Week’ – seven days devoted to an unusual array of uniquely-inspired events connecting the theme of water, varying from world-class musical concerts to an art exhibition, play readings and film screenings, as well as children’s programming.

Wellington Water Week events were held at key community sites throughout the village and included the museum, library, town hall and united church as well as Midtown Brewing Company, The Drake Devonshire and Festival Players Studio Theatre.

Drumming with Montreal-based quartet Architek Percussion kicked off the week outdoors under the big lake tent beside Wellington United Church. The quartet’s captivating rhythms were set against Lake Ontario’s own natural rhythms.

Wellington Water Week was inspired by Sweden’s World Water Week Symposium held in Stockholm. Produced by Big Lake Kollective, the idea was to bring a version of World Water Week to Prince Edward County with the help of local partnering groups. The Kollective’s mandate was to give artistic voice to the element that connects people using water’s ability to mystify, awe, connect, inspire and define everyone.

Canadian violinist, Elissa Lee and Canadian Opera Company music director, Johannes Debus take a break from rehearsals at Wellington United Church.

“The idea behind Water Week in Wellington kind of started with the attraction of the place,” said co-organizer, Johannes Debus.

“It has a certain magnetism and the wide horizon that makes you want to think you are almost at the sea. This was a source of inspiration and also a reason to always come back and at some point to get inspired by this big lake and this immense resource of water.”

Wellington, situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, forms part of the Great Lakes basin – the largest body of freshwater in the world.

Catching bubbles at Jennifer Gasoi’s interactive family show.

Thursday morning brought an uplifting and fun performance by Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Gasoi with the lake as its backdrop.

Gasoi, along with John Sadowy on keyboard, entertained the young audience with interactive and colourful song and dance routines, some involving interesting props. The one-hour musical show geared to children and young families included songs about sleeping gorillas, monkeys jumping on the bed, as well as the bubble song. Instruments used to mimic thunder, a drum to help demonstrate wave movement, and a rain stick all help propel the rain song.

Children performing the Octopus’s Garden

A delightful version of the Beatles Octopus’s Garden included participating children dancing to the music waving colourful scarves to represent an octopus’s many legs.

Wellington’s museum joined in with the water theme with a screening of Suzanne Pasternak’s “Vanishing Legacy: The History of the Lakefaring Families of Prince Edward County”. The short film is a culmination of Pasternak’s research into the maritime history at the south end of Prince Edward County.

A small photographic exhibition by Marsden A. Kemp (1867 to 1943) was on display showing the County’s connection to water over the decades. Marsden, a resident of Kingston and Picton, was a prolific and passionate amateur photographer.

Jessica Chase, assistant curator, said the museum wanted to get people interested in how to better look after water.

“That really is the reason why we are all here and it keeps us all going. I think it fit in with the museum’s mandate very well and having the photographic exhibit with Marsden Kemp is an excellent way of tying water week and heritage together and it shows us how our waterways here in Prince Edward County change and how they are very much the same as they were 100 years ago, 500 years ago and how we are still using them the same way today either for work or for pleasure, and obviously to keep us all going at the end of the day.”

Sung, Spoken, Played concluded activities Friday night at Wellington United Church. The unique blend of song, text and music was performed by Festival Players artistic director Graham Abbey with Canadian Opera Company music director, Johannes Debus, Canadian violinist, Elissa Lee and bassist, Alan Coulombe.

Some of the 12×12 inch art works on display at Midtown

“The response [to Water Week] has been pretty positive and we want to continue to try to move forward to create more concerts for the community here,” said Lee.
An art exhibition and sale was held all week at Midtown Brewing Company. Swim Drink Fish Square Foot Art Exhibit with Stew Jones and Friends featured 31 original, water-themed works of art by local artists, each measuring 12 by 12 inches square. The works were intended to be inspired by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper’s mandate to create a swimmable, drinkable, fishable future with many different styles of creative artistic expression coming together as one.

Each art piece had a ticket price of $250 with 50 per cent to be donated to the Wellington Rotary Club, with an optional additional portion to be donated to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. Local participating artists included Kevin Scanlon, Christopher Wakeline, Karole Marois, Vanessa Pandos, Rick Matthews and Terry Culbert. Participating artists from the Kingston and Toronto areas included Elizabeth Lennie, Julie Himel and Michelle Reid.

Also on display at Midtown were a number of children’s water-inspired artwork created earlier at the museum.

Participants at “Underwater” trying the augmented reality experience at Wellington Town Hall with Ram Puvanesasingham (centre)

“Underwater” at Wellington Town Hall Friday was an augmented reality experience created especially for Water Week by Picton’s Gepeto, an interactive storytelling studio. The interactive installation is an experiment to see how sound and movement can affect individuals and influence behaviour.

CEO Ram Puvanesasingham said, “We’re looking at different technologies that can immerse children in storytelling, like augmented reality specifically. For Water Week, we wanted to come up with a theme that was interesting. Using fish, the screen is like a fish tank, instead of tapping on the glass of the fish tank, you use special boards and as you move them back and forth and the fish are programmed to respond.”

“They are actually individual little fish that each behaves on their own, but they like to flock to their own species. So based on the movement, if you move forward and make rotations, the fish will be influenced by those rotations and will either became attracted to you or move away from you, or maybe two flocks will come toward you.”

Wellington Water Week made a big and significant splash with many events free, or with nominal charges. Profits from the paid events are to be shared with Wellington Rotary, to be held in trust for the maintenance and development of the Wellington Rotary Beach, and Wellington United Church, to help support renovations and work as a centre for community.

Volunteer Pearl Hucul said, “It’s is very much the vision of key organizers Maria Gacesa and Johannes Debus who decided to do something for the community and they created Water Week. They wanted to create all the arts together; we have had music playing while children were playing, we’ve had a number of different types and forms of music and they wanted to make sure there were events for everyone.”

Krista Dalby read ‘The Monster of Lake on the Mountain’ story and children enjoyed recycling boats and fishy friends activities at the Wellington Branch Library where they also learned how to make a water bottle filter. Suzanne Pasternak also read from her play Minerva, and there was a screening of Mozart’s Magic Flute.

“Water is the fuel of life so to speak, so it is the fuel of art, what we are doing, of creative powers,” said Debus.

“I think there is a lot of connection between those elements; sometimes there is no direct connection, but it’s wonderful for me to see how those elements somehow interact and how people get aware through something like this Water Week and aware of the fact that maybe this resource is in danger and in peril.”

“We really have a responsibility to take care of it and also to celebrate together the idea of community, the idea of art, inspired by water: this interaction I find quite striking,“ he said.

“The amazing thing is the theme is water; we are surrounded by water and we are an island and water is fluid and is a creative medium that transforms itself into three different forms. It is a celebration of creativity and inclusivity. It’s very much a whole community thing, a celebration of creativity and the wonder of water,” said Hucul.

Organizers are hoping Wellington Water Week will return next year and will become an annual event.

 

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