Vans Bryant and Joe Penny set the artistic tone for the morning with their guitar and mandolin music strumming in the background as Clyde River artist Julia Purcell began a water-colour demonstration in the centre of the park for some keen observers. Sharon Sawyer, Abigail Sawyer, Doreen Pound, Elizabeth Ferguson and Weldon Yeo were among those who were painting scenes of the park. Children were tucked in the reading tent set up by Calle Weiss from Cornwall Library. Calle also had a wonderful selection of art and craft books for people to view. Over by the gazebo, kids were playing games and Annie Boyle was teaching a young woman to knit.
Later in the morning, Renee Dahn moved through the interior garden serenading the artists with classical violin music and then circling the artists as their muse to spark their creative pursuits. One person mentioned to Renee that she made her feel like a great artist in Paris.
Tasty treats and flower arrangements fed the artistic soul. Emily Bryant prepared fresh coffee and tea and took along some of her famous cinnamon rolls. Jean Beer and Lois Gass were among those who brought some extra sandwiches. Cornwall Save Easy provided cold beverages and Robin’s Donuts offered robin eggs. Jo-Ann MacPhail brought along her pots of flowers and fresh-cut arrangements which were displayed throughout the park. Alex Dixon helped with the set up for the day.
There were prizes for all. The $50 gift certificate from Ellen’s Creek Gallery went to J’Nan Brown. The Matos Winery gift basket of wine, chocolates, nuts and crackers was won by Weldon Yeo. Everyone attending received a 25% discount coupon from Ellen’s Creek Gallery.
There were over 50 people who attended Art in the Park, and many of those people had not been inside the park before. They had driven past it many times, but they had no idea what a secret of beauty lies within the trees. Even though it was fortunately hot and humid yesterday, the trees offered a natural air conditioning that seemed to allow just enough sun and comfortable temperatures to provide the best conditions for artists in creation.
There is something about this park that conspires to restore balance and serenity. Maybe it is because the property was once the home of Dr. A.J. Murchison who was a well-loved doctor that visited the homes of the sick throughout this area and brought health and comfort to families.
Dr. Murchison’s grandson and his wife were there yesterday, Murdo and Betty Jean Brown. Murdo said the park has restored the original spirit of his Grandfather’s home. Murdo pointed out the trees that he recalled as a small child. Betty Jean told me about someone she had met one time who said she loved Dr. Murchison and she had asked why. The lady said that when she was a child, Dr. Murchison came to see her sick mother and while there, he noticed that she did not have any toys to play with. The next time he came to see her mother, he brought her a doll and told her mother to let the little girl keep it. At that time, the doctor’s word was God’s word. What Dr. Murchison understood was the importance of play and creativity in promoting and maintaining health in children and in adults.
Gary MacDougall stopped by after lunch with his grandson. He said every time they drive past the park, his grandson wants to drop in to play with the toy fire engine. There are toys tucked around for children to enjoy and there are treasures to be found by adults as well. The white swing offered a moment for a father and daughter and later for a husband and wife. The gazebo adorned with fresh-cut flowers offered a time for Marcia, a visitor from England, to share stories with those whose families had left England and Scotland to move to Clyde River many years ago.
Whenever I visit Murchison Place Park, I notice one consistent thing that is the fundamental element that contributed to the success of Art in the Park or any other event that is held here. No matter if it is a child, adult, a neighbourhood cat, or the birds, there is an inherent, unspoken knowledge of how this park is to be enjoyed and that is to play, create, imagine and to just be oneself.