Countdown Public Art Legacy Project

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Honouring survivors of sexual violence

The Countdown Public Art Legacy Project is a series of pebble mosaics that honour sexual assault survivors across Ontario. The first of its kind in Canada, the project launched in 2016 after the Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County invited Red Dress Productions to bring its vision into being.

Workshops were held with residents, municipal bodies, local partners, and artists in Pembroke, Eganville, Killaloe, and Pikwàkanagàn First Nation to create the first four monuments. This project will continue into 2022.

View video highlights and monument locations.

Reflections from Countdown participants

Transcript of reflections

— We’d been dreaming about doing something that brings the idea of sexual violence into the light of day. This opens a conversation in a different way about resiliency, about surviving, about moving forward — sheer numbers.

— We’re talking about the first-ever monument to honour survivors of sexual violence in the little town of Eganville.

— We’re using pebbles or stone as our permanent monument. The elders always tell us that stones are the oldest people on planet earth. They’re our storytellers, they’re our archivists. We can’t, I don’t think, underestimate the grounding-ness of stones.

— It appears massive, but is made up of small, sort of, moving parts — which, I think, aptly describes life.

— What do I see in it? Uh, like, when a drop of water falls and hits the water and creates a series of rings.

— That’s very much what happens, I think, with people who have experienced sexual violence – is that it makes an impact — there is an interruption, an impact on the way you view the world after something like that has happened.

— I felt all through this that it’s been something that I would like to — and I talked to different people, the care, the carrying, I guess, of this — not allowing the what came out of the creation of this or what was evoked from this, to just let it dissipate.

— This has given people a chance to talk about — ah — um — subjects that are, um, hidden and a chance to express themselves in ways that perhaps they hadn’t thought they could before, so it’s wonderful.

— Society is starting to take a stand in starting to stand up against violence against women, so the more awareness we can bring to it, the better.

— Hopefully the project is just the beginning, and I think is just going to be a snowball effect and we’ll see more and more communities take a part in that and having a visual reminder that sexual violence happens, and you know, we’re not going to remain silent any more.


“I Carry”: A video poem by Countdown participants from Brantford, Ontario

Transcript of video poem
[WOMAN SINGING OVER RUNNING RIVER]

— I carry
— I carry
— I carry
— I carry
— I carry gloves in my pockets to warm my hands, hands that reach out in warmth and welcome
— I carry my watch with me to remind me that my time is now
— I carry a key from a house that no longer exists
— I carry the weight of the world
— I carry growth, strength, peacefulness, glee
— I carry determination, whimsy, and delight
— I carry burs, brambles, memories that stick
— I carry a winding river

[WOMAN SINGS]
Lights, lights awaken…

— I carry whispers, stories, histories — I carry songs of heart, I carry truth of vision, hope for future
— Hope for shifts, tidal waves, avalanches
— I carry anger that stops me and anger that moves me forward
— I carry drum, feathers, humour
— I carry the work of believing in change
— I carry heaviness
— I carry stones
— Lightness
— I carry memories of myself…
— I carry soil
— …before and after the flood
— I carry fire
— I let go of the lost years
— I let go of all the lost years

[WOMEN’S VOICES]
— I carry memory, stones, sand, river, and heart
— I carry a winding river

[WOMAN SINGS]
When the lights, the moon and the stars, the nights and the lights and the moon and the stars, where eagles fly the sky

— I carry a vehicle for ancestors
— I carry for my ancestors thoughts of resilience and love
— I carry my ancestors and my ancestors carry me
— Past, present, future, we are one, sending our love and solidarity
— I carry my ancestors. I carry the power of their songs. I carry purpose and hope. And I carry compassion, strength for me, for you, and all the earth.

Locations

North Bay pebble mosaic

Fisher Street Parkette

Fisher Street
North Bay, Ontario
6-feet diameter, 2019

Peterborough pebble mosaic

Millennium Park

130 King Street
Peterborough, Ontario
6-feet diameter, 2019

Lanark County mosaic

Town Hall Square Park

15 Mill Street
Carleton Place, Ontario
6-feet diameter, 2019

Brantford mosaic

Brantford & District Labour Centre

1100 Clarence Street South
Brantford, Ontario
6-feet diameter, 2019

Centennial Park mosaic

Centennial Park

1T0
Eganville, Ontario
10 x 20 feet, 2016

Pikwàkanagàn First Nation mosaic

Health Services,
Minopimàdiz-i Gamik

Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
1643 Mishomis Inamo
Golden Lake, Ontario
4 x 3 feet, 2016

Station Park mosaic

Station Park

Queen Street
Killaloe, Ontario
4 x 3 feet, 2016

Handful of pebbles

Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County

Address unlisted to maintain client safety
4 x 3 feet, 2016


Funders and supporters: EVA–Renfrew County, It’s Never Okay: Ontario’s Gender-based Violence Strategy (Ontario Arts Council), Toronto Arts Council, MorenaMedia, Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio, Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County