Take a stroll in the community along 5th Avenue and you’ll see a unique housing development taking shape in Hillhurst Sunnyside. But it’s not a new condo.
Local area artists have created over 90 new homes and many are on display now at Framed on Fifth, or can be viewed in the Hearth Room at HSCA.
As part of the North Hill Centre Hello Neighbour campaign and in collaboration with Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Patricia Gustafson and Hannah White from Framed on Fifth took the idea of birdhouses as art installations to exciting new heights.
“While speaking with Karen at HSCA, she told us you had been given the birdhouses by North Hill Mall, they were donated and you were selling them to people and they would decorate them. [And we went, well] we have all these artists friends why don’t we take the project to our artist friends and family and the community, to as many people as we can to paint these things. We’ll give them the birdhouses and they will paint them and they’ll bring them back and we can silent auction them,” says Patricia.
Hannah says, “We opened it up to everybody. It was in the newsletters for a couple of months. So our youngest artist is 4. It’s a community event. It’s not just artists in Calgary. We made it ‘artists’ and meant anybody who can put a paintbrush in their hand.”
At least 70 artists have contributed to the project, and everyone who sees the houses gets very excited. Hannah and Patricia talk about the reception from the community. “It’s blown up way more than we ever expected,” says Patricia. “It’s become more work than we ever thought, but it’s so fun.”
“What I love,” Hannah chirps in, “are kids walking home from school and everyday they’ll all stop, and as a big pod they’re all like ‘blebleblebleblebleble’.” She makes a noise like a flock of tweeting birds.
When asked what their favourite birdhouses and names are, Hannah and Patricia move around Framed on Fifth to showcase each. “Invasion of the Birdy Snatchers.” says Patricia, “Wordy Birdy.”
“I love Octavia.” Hannah says. “I like her name. Oh, the tin roof one! Under the hot tin roof!”
So why do they think birdhouses have been such a success? “It’s a small thing they can contribute to be part of the community,” says Patricia.
“I would say that there’s a feeling of coziness and a feeling of home and maybe that’s what people are doing,” says Hannah. “It’s almost like cocooning.”
The catalyst for this project was a partnership with North Hill Centre and that was the exact intention behind the idea to use birdhouses. Paula Lee from North Hill says, “The reason we chose birdhouses is because we wanted to start a dialogue around the Hearth Room, and the centre of a home, and we couldn’t build a house, so we decided that birdhouses were a kind of metaphor to what the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association does. You have programs for the community, for seniors, for kids. So it was just a way to give people a fun project that was around this idea of home. And the Hearth Room being the centre of this project.”
Money raised from this project will go toward revitalizing the HSCA Hearth Room, which hosts our Community Connections programs, such as Fresh Food Basket, Neighbour Night and Community Potluck. All of these programs are HSCA run and designed to foster connections and a sense of belonging. They are open for participation by all residents. The Hearth Room is also home to our Art Class program and Indoor Farmers’ Market both of which offer capacity and skill building opportunities.
When Framed on Fifth is asked why a project like this is a good fit for Hillhurst Sunnyside and HSCA Patricia says, “Because people care here. They walk, they see things, they do things at the community centre. You’ve opened up the community centre to homeless people again. Because you’ve opened it up, you’ve made it accessible and when you make something accessible people want to play. They do. Personally I have no idea where this is going to go, but we’re up for pretty much anything. We’d be more than thrilled to help you do whatever group things where we can play. I don’t know where it’s going to go. This is just the beginning. This has been so much fun.”
“We want to play,” says Hannah.
Paula says, “The collaboration with Framed on Fifth is exactly what we want to be happening. We are neighbours. And we should all be doing something that benefits each other whatever it is, you know, especially in Calgary. I just think it’s what we do in Calgary. So they see an opportunity and they help people and we see an opportunity and we help people and you see an opportunity and you help people. It’s really kind of a great story. “
Silent Auction bidding is open now and you can visit HSCA or Framed on Fifth to view the birdhouses in person and get a jump on the auction. All of the birdhouses will also be available during a special Farmers’ Market on Wednesday December 5, from 3-7 P.M. before bidding closes. But Patricia also mentioned that they’d like to pick 10 of their favourites for a live auction on the December 5th date. There will also be a prize awarded to the artists who win Fan Favourite and Best of Show courtesy of MLA Dr. David Swann’s local arts fund.
To view the full collection online please visit: http://framedonfifth.com/birdhouse/ and we hope you can join us on Wednesday, December 5.
Article written by Jessica Clark