Walk About Kingston with Martello Alley -Episode 3 – Hidden Gems
Kingston is a beautiful city. It’s also very walkable. I often walk downtown and along the water, and see so many people taking in the warmth and charm of this city we live in. The part I enjoy most is the discovery of the art, historical plaques, and other points of interest.
As a public service to visitors and residents of our city, I decided to start sharing through a video log what I have happened upon.
For the third video I decided to highlight some the little secret works of art in the downtown. Some are new, and others have been there for years. Most of them are there in plain view, but most of us are unaware that they are there. The area that I cover in this walk is from the section of King Street East across from City Hall, around the corner of Brock Street, through Rochleau Court (also commonly known as Chez Piggy Alley), and up to Princess Street.
The artists featured are Barry Blunden, Stefan Duerst, and Yvonne Merton-Fox. Some of their works are attached to walls or hanging between two walls, some form part of business signs, some are garden art, and some are embedded in walls.
So many people walk along and they pass by these hiden gems. But how many people know about these art installations or the artists?
I included information about them below, as well as sources of the information from my searches online.
Enjoy your walk about Kingston as you take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. And don’t forget to visit us at Martello Alley. We are located at 203 B Wellington Street, just north of Princess Street. Just look for the bicycles!
Anyone who strolls down Princess and King street and through the back courtyards of downtown Kingston is already familiar with the works of Barry Blunden. Without realizing it, residents and visitors alike have been delighted by the hanging laundry and grasshopper in the Brock Street Commons, the pelican and gargoyle along King street on the Whig and Masonic buildings and the rooster standing outside the Golden Rooster itself. Even the beautiful detailing along many of downtown’s most iconic buildings belongs to Blunden. Born in, and named for Barryfield, Blunden is a part of Kingston’s history not only in legacy but in his longstanding contributions to the aesthetic of the town.
For the first time in years, a collection (spanning decades) of Blunden’s work will be shown and offered for sale at Studio 22, Open Gallery. His time as a working copper and tinsmith has led to a stunning collection of architectural detailing, practical pieces for the home and decorative sculptures.
Blunden himself describes the durability and longstanding nature of the material used in his work. Joking that his pieces will one day be seen on the antique roadshow, the serious longevity of his craft becomes clear. Just like Kingston itself, Barry Blunden’s pieces have a long standing history behind them and a new history waiting ahead of them.
For decades before and ever creating still, there is always more to come…
“I just want to rush out every morning and get my hands dirty. This is what I do.” – Barry Blunden
Stefan Duerst is a sculptor working predominantly in fabricated and forged steel, designed for domestic and outdoor installation. His pieces are abstract, exploring archaic forms, space/non-space relations, and the use of colour. Surface treatments are varied, from epoxy primer with polyurethane top coat, spray paint, natural patina to simply oiled. Originally from Germany, Duerst has devoted his idyllic piece of the Canadian shield to a sculpture park, located in in Godfrey, Ontario.
My sculptures are predominantly in steel, fabricated and forged. During the forging process, working with fire, my body, machinery and hand tools, I am entering a state similar to meditating. I have to be totally present in order to shape the material while it is hot, which requires instant action.
As well, I cannot afford to think about anything else, in order to not get burnt. Creating sculpture is a very grounding experience for me. I am able to express my emotions in a very direct and physical way.
My fabricated and forged pieces are an extension of each other, interpreting and expressing my thoughts and feelings through their own specific aesthetic.
A gypsy in spirit, after a childhood of moving from one country to another, Yvonne has never been able to answer the classic question “where do you come from”? For years she agonized over how to put her answer in a nutshell, how to wrap it up in a neat response. The answer was nowhere and everywhere. England, Germany, Turkey, France, Holland, Switzerland and she then moved back to Canada, after 16 years in the Canary Islands.
A business in tourism took Yvonne on countless inspiring journeys to exotic destinations and their influences remain in her soul to this day. She has developed a distinctive, intuitive style, stemming from her kaleidoscope of memories. The Intense colours of the Canary Islands, the red minerals in the volcanoes, the sun, sea, sand and fauna. Markets and Souks in Marrakesh, English country gardens and so much more.
Yvonne is a self-taught artist and aged 68, at the start of a new chapter in her life, she was invited to exhibit in a local gallery in her new home, Kingston Ontario.
Yvonne’s art has been bought by collectors from around the world and is regularly featured in local shows. She has three large paintings on plexiglass, on permanent display in one of Kingston’s historical, downtown locations.
She recently had the honor of one of her paintings being chosen by the Ontario Government, to hang as part of an exhibit in The Ontario Legislature in Toronto.
“It makes me happy that my artistic journey is bringing light and colour to other people’s lives. Knowing this fills me with joy every day.”