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Waterway Project celebrates local locks

by Jamie Steel

Art, according to Christy Haldane, shouldn’t be an exclusive club reserved for a chosen few. It should be for everyone, it should be inviting, “it should reflect the environment that it’s in and celebrate it.”

Haldane, originally from Toronto, has lived in the Lakefield area for approximately 10 years after first moving to Peterborough but since settling south of Stoney Lake.

It was a big adjustment, she says, but it’s given her the opportunity to explore nature in a way life in Toronto never did.

In 2000, Haldane graduated from Sheridan College where she studied glass. It was after a semester at Canberra School of Art in Australia that she began regularly incorporating recycled window glass into her sculptures.

Some of those sculptures can be found on display at Locks 22 through 26 of the Trent Severn Waterway as part of Haldane’s Waterway Project.

The project was inspired by Haldane’s walks between Lakefield and Peterborough. She knew the locks were significant to the area but it wasn’t just their functionality that drew Haldane to feature them in her work.

“There’s a beauty in decay and I think the locks show that,” she says. “I have an interest in how the natural and built environment interact.”

It started with a request from the Art Gallery of Peterborough for Haldane to produce an exhibit. From there, Haldane approached Parks Canada with her idea to exhibit an installation at the visitors centre, and later the five locks.

While Haldane was busy producing beautiful, atypical pieces of glass, steel and cement art, the announcement of cuts to Parks Canada came. From the emotions running high following what many considered a hard hit to the waterway, Haldane drew inspiration for the sculpture the public can now view at Lock 26 in Lakefield.

“There is a crack, a crack in everything,” a quote from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem reads on the information sheet at the sculpture’s base.

“I feel like I have to be optimistic,” she says, adding that as she was designing the installation she was thinking to herself that things can and will get better.

Haldane remembers a trip she took to the Art Gallery of Ontario, touching an installation and setting off an alarm. She remembers going to galleries and feeling judged or like other gallery-goers didn’t want her there. She remembers art being intimidating and didn’t want that to be the case with her work.

The textures in particular of Haldane’s work make the public want to reach out and touch it. This time, they’re allowed. No alarm will sound, they won’t be escorted away. What Haldane hopes will happen is the audience, whoever sees or touches her work, will be led down a path in their own mind.

“I think art is supposed to evoke emotions and thoughts but the artist doesn’t need to control them,” she explains.

Along with being able to visit the Waterway Project, the public is invited to attend the Art Gallery of Peterborough on August 29 for Artist Talk, where Haldane will be sharing the details of the project from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Plus, on September 8, Haldane will be at Lock 24 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. where she would be delighted to meet anyone interested in viewing her art.

Following the Meet the Artist event, Haldane is inviting the public to a barbecue from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at her home, for which they can RSVP by Sept. 4 by emailing or calling 705-652-9441.

For more information about Haldane and her art, visit

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