This is the third Artist-in-Residence project initiated by the Winnipeg Arts Council, through the Public Art Program. Recent residencies have taken place at the Living Prairie Museum and at the City of Winnipeg Archives. The goal of the program is to integrate artists and their ideas into City facilities to explore civic resources, history and identity through the creative process. Songwriter Christine Fellows was selected as Artist-in-Residence for Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum for 2009. She spent six months combing the collections and collaborating with the staff to create a multi-disciplinary work that is a poignant reflection on Saint-Boniface history. Reliquary/Reliquaire was performed live with a four-piece ensemble, overhead projections and film in the Chapel at the Saint-Boniface Museum in September 2009.
Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum works with a collection of artifacts that reveal the lives and culture of the Francophone and Métis communities of Manitoba. The Museum is housed in the old Grey Nuns' Convent. Built between 1846 and 1851 for the Grey Nuns who arrived in the Red River Colony in 1844, the structure is an outstanding example of Red River frame construction and is in fact the Museum’s principal artifact. The chapel, with its celebrated acoustics, is central to the Museum space.
The collections of the Museum offered a rich source of inspiration and Christine drew on letters, archival film, photographs, books and artifacts. The Museum is the former residence of the *Grey Nuns and Christine focused much of her attention on the lives of these remarkable women. In addition to her collaboration with the Museum, Christine invited other artists into the creation of the work, combining music with film and visual art. The result was a hauntingly beautiful performance at times both melancholy and playful. The chapel provided a deeply evocative space and wonderful acoustics for this outstanding and moving performance.
Performers: Christine Fellows (vocals, piano), Shary Boyle (overhead projections), Caelum Vatnsdal (film), Leanne Zacharias (cello, vocals), Alex McMaster (cello, vocals), and Lise Brémault (guest vocalist).
“ For me, the simple act of entering Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum is a powerful and transformative experience. In creating Reliquary/Reliquaire, I wished to magnify this experience and to share it with others -- my musical and artistic collaborators, and my community.” Christine Fellows
*The Grey Nuns of Manitoba played an important role in establishing societal structures of care and education in the province. We acknowledge that these nation-building activities are part of a colonial project that has had devastating impacts on local Indigenous peoples and cultures.