The unveiling plus a look at the first archival community photo selected to be installed on a Base31 building

It’s official – Base31 has installed the seven pieces of art that were chosen to explore the theme of Natures Aviators. 

Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa

Base31 commissioned a series of artworks that meaningfully explore the theme of Nature’s Aviators: who and what they are, what roles they play, how they navigate in three dimensions, and what symbolic importance they hold. 

Over the past century, Base31 played an important role in the nation’s history, first as an air training base, and in the decades since as a hub for local flying clubs and aviation lovers. And yet, the location of the site in a region home to more than 300 bird species reminds us that aviation is not just a human endeavour. Birds, butterflies, bees and a cornucopia of winged insects do the work of pollination, nutrification, seed dispersal and many other functions that keep our ecosystem healthy and contribute to the agricultural vitality of Prince Edward County.

Without them, we may never have learned how to take to the skies ourselves. In reverence of all things that fly, we invited artists to help us explore the theme of “Nature’s Aviators” and announced the chosen artists for this unveiling.

The artworks are installed on the former Officer’s Quarters building and were unveiled to the public during our Community Open House on Saturday, July 9th. 

Congratulations to the seven artists who were chosen, here are their works:

The artworks

“Hirundo Rustica” by Vanessa B. Rieger

Born and raised downtown Toronto, Vanessa B. Rieger grew up spray painting on the streets of Toronto until she started working for city funded graffiti transformation projects and mural initiatives. She grew up in wood-shops and is trained in carpentry. Combining her skills in fine art, wood working, set design, analog video and performance, this helped her develop a multidisciplinary art practice that gives her audience an immersed A/V experience.

Vanessa  moved to Picton, Ontario in 2019 where she has a wood-shop and studio space at Base31. She has been involved with various local PEC arts initiatives such as the Firelight Lantern Festival, Ghosts of Camp Picton, Picton Night of Lights/Spirit in the Square and Terror at Macaulay.

Barn swallows are a threatened species in Ontario and Vanessa has something to say about it! Her commissioned piece for Base31 is inspired by the barn swallows.

Their beautiful songs and distinct conversation-like chatter fills the air here at Base31 and their flying patterns and aerobatics are a joy to watch.

Much like the planes that use the nearby runways to train pilots, the Swallows of Base31 use the area to train their young and teach them the art of flight. Vanessa’s mural will pay homage to these Barn Swallows, their flight and their plight.

Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa
Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa

“Warbler Watching” by Portia “Po” Chapman

Portia “Po” Chapman is a Bay of Quinte based emerging, published and award winning interdisciplinary Canadian artist.  Po identifies as a Visual Storyteller.

She received her BFAH – Studio Thesis Sculpture/Installation (2019), BEd (2020), and Medal in Visual Art from Queen’s University with a specialized focus being Artist in Community Education.

She is best known for being a hand drum maker, painter and illustrator featuring elegant line work and a simplistic dreamy style that reflects a hopeful future while celebrating the Beauty of Creation.  Portia’s artwork gained a boost in notoriety when her commissioned “Truth” illustration went viral on Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.  Po has a passion for creating art that is interactive and can be readily viewed.

At the time of painting “Warbler Watching,” she was also teaching Visual Art at PECI in Picton.  Her mural for Base 31 is inspired by the annual Prince Edward County Spring Birding Festival that welcomes Warblers upon the shores of Prince Edward Point.

“Migratory Metamorphosis” by Steph Payne

Steph Payne is a Venezuelan-Canadian muralist, digital designer and ‘jill of all trades’ artist.

After spending significant time living in Mexico during the pandemic, specifically in San Miguel, an hour north of one of the biggest Monarch butterfly reserves in the world, Steph was surprised to discover that Prince Edward County is home to an impressive number of Monarch butterflies and is a region internationally known as being a significant Monarch reserve.

During their eight month migration from southern Ontario to the forested mountains of central Mexico, four generations of Monarch Butterflies are born and die. How they find their way back to their wintering site remains a magical mystery.

Steph’s piece for Base31 is Inspired by the incredible natural phenomenon of this migratory insect from Canada to Mexico.

Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa
Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa

“Bird/Wall” by Bill Greaves

Bill Greaves is a ceramic artist based in Prince Edward County and Toronto. His current work focuses on hand-built vessels. Heavily grogged stoneware is coiled and scraped to expose aggregate. Glazes are washed and dry-brushed to build texture.

Bill holds a Master of Architecture from Yale University. In 2020, he was nominated for the A.K. Sculthorpe Award for Advocacy for bringing an international spotlight to Ontario Place by successfully nominating it to the World Monuments Fund’s 2020 Watch List.

For the Base31 commission Bill was inspired by the cedar shingles of our WWII buildings.
Here is a ceramic piece of Bill’s. His work for Base31 will be different from his usual vessels though still inspired by nature.

His installation is similar to a traditional wood shingle installation.

“Murmuration” by Frank Hannan

Frank Hannan graduated from the University of Toronto in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Philosophy and a minor in Fine Arts. He received a B.Ed in 1987 with Visual Arts and English as his focus. He went on to have a 30 year career with the North York Board of Education and then the Toronto District School Board. During the 30 years of teaching Frank taught art to students and teachers. Currently he has works at Guildworks and Carbon galleries in Prince Edward County.

Frank hopes that the sense of space birds inhabit and their movement through that space is captured in his Base31 commissioned work.

His beautiful work explores the flight patterns of birds.

Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa
Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa

“Pilots and Barracks” by Milê Murtanovski

In 1988 Milé Murtanovski began painting in watercolours, focusing on predominantly figurative pieces; these have remained life-long loves, but his body of work has expanded into lush oils and monochromatic inks with increasingly varied subject matter.

In 2010 Milé left Toronto, relocating to a 150-year old farmhouse in Prince Edward County, Ontario, where he opened Small Pond Arts with his wife and fellow artist, Krista Dalby.

“A World of Flight and Aviation to Appreciate” by Constance Intounas

Constance Intounas is a self-taught artist known by the name Browz, focused on abstract artwork created both with acrylic paint and digitally on her iPad.

She started her artist career back in 2020 at the beginning of the global pandemic and she began selling her work on Facebook Marketplace. Since then, she has done freelance artwork for Dept of Illumination in Picton, painting a picnic table in Benson Park, painted a mural for the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, collaborated on a 12ft mural for CBC Ottawa x Kingston Frontenac Public Library, has been a part of two Union Gallery Exhibitions and has joined an art collective in Kingston called Forworld, where her and 5 other artists share and collaborate on artwork within a shared studio space.

Constance is extremely passionate about art, and interested in the profound ways that it is able to connect her with the surrounding community. Her artwork reflects upon life experiences and events that are relatable to the general public.

This additional painting was commissioned and placed on the opposite side of
the former Officer’s Quarters.

Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa
Photo Credit: Ophelia Spinosa

We unveiled the first archival community photo selected to be installed on a Base31 building

Pictured here is Wm. G. Bowser on parade at Camp Picton

“My father served at Camp Picton from 1953 to 1963 before he retired to Kelowna, BC. My three sisters were born in England where he met our mom. My two brothers and I were born in Picton.

We lived first at 18 Cassino Court and then at 4 Nery Avenue in the PMQ’s (Permanent Married Quarters). My sister and I attended classes at St Barbara’s Academy on the base and the whole family attended services at the Anglican Church there.

Life on the base was good, everyone’s father went to work at the same place and we all wore the same uniform at school, white blouses, navy blue dresses and saddle shoes. We sang
God Save The Queen, Oh Canada, and recited the Lord’s Prayer every morning before class began.

Not sure why my father is being so closely inspected in this picture, I know we children spent lots of time helping to shine his shoes and buttons so I’m sure it wasn’t that. My eldest sister met her husband Samuel H. Tilson, here as well when he was serving in the Canadian Guards. – Story and archival photos submitted by Linda McBain