A special memorial canvas in honour of the late Jack Layton is currently on display at the constituency office of Beaches-East York MP Matthew Kellway.
The project, which came about after Layton’s death last August, is a way for constituents to add their remembrances, and expressions of hope and thanks to the former Toronto-Danforth MP and NDP leader. The large canvas is designed to be a tangible way for people to express their thoughts, emotions about Layton and his death.
“When I saw the outpouring of love for Jack in the form of chalk art, poetry and prose at Nathan Phillips Square, I thought we should provide an opportunity here, closer to home, for people to share,” Kellway wrote in an email to The Mirror.
He went on to say a lot of people wanted to talk about Jack, but were reluctant to commit their feelings to writing. Instead, he said many took up the opportunity and put pen to canvas.
“One of the interesting and lovely things is that people of all ages – from kids to the elderly have shared their feelings. And those feelings – though expressed differently – all describe a loving and lovely man who is missed greatly,” Kellway said, crediting local artist Nathalie Vachon for linking all of the expressions so beautifully.
In recent months, Vachon, who has lived in the Upper Beach area near Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue for more than 10 years, took on the task of creating artwork, specifically an Asian-inspired cherry tree motif, to embellish the canvas.
A local artist, author and storyteller, Vachon said she was happy to take on the project as Layton was someone she admired for his integrity and vision, and appreciated his support for environmental causes and the arts.
“I’m happy to be able to do something to honour that,” she said, adding she was touched by all of the thoughtful messages on the tapestry.
“It was hard not to be in tears reading it all.”
The Jack Layton memory canvas will be up at Kellway’s local office, 155 Main St., at Gerrard Street East, until Thursday, Oct. 18.
People are welcome to add their messages to the piece, which is set to be presented to Layton’s widow, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, on Friday, Oct. 19 during a Harvest Supper fundraiser.
- Joanna Lavoie