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Embroidered images tell the city’s 100-year story

Rose Kapp, left, and Ann Kitching work on a large scale embroidered wall hanging that will go up in Port Moody city hall next spring as part of the city’s centennial celebrations. Below, blackberries and a heron are a few of the hand-stitched symbols that will trace PoMo’s environmental and socio-economic history back one hundred years. - SARAH PAYNE/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Rose Kapp, left, and Ann Kitching work on a large scale embroidered wall hanging that will go up in Port Moody city hall next spring as part of the city’s centennial celebrations. Below, blackberries and a heron are a few of the hand-stitched symbols that will trace PoMo’s environmental and socio-economic history back one hundred years.
— image credit: SARAH PAYNE/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

A community art project is taking shape in the basement of a Port Moody home that, stitch by carefully placed stitch, will tell the story of a city celebrating its 100th birthday next year.

For the past 18 months Ann Kitching and Rose Kapp, along with more than two dozen volunteer stitchers, have been working on the large-scale embroidered wall hanging — it’s about 14 feet across and four feet high — that will go up in PoMo’s city hall next spring.

“It’s been an enormous amount of fun,” Kitching said of the project, most of which is rolled up on to two PVC pipes stretched out over a pair of sawhorses in her basement art room.

“It’s all so beautiful when you see what people have done — it’s like Christmas,” Kapp added.

Kitching cooked up the idea when suggestions for the city’s centennial celebrations were first being discussed, as a way for residents to participate in a centennial legacy project and, in the years to come, as a tool that will “hopefully invoke people to look at our own history,” Kapp said.

The project kicked off with a trip to the Port Moody Station Museum, where they combed through the collection of more than 5,000 photographs for iconic images of the city.

They selected about 20 but have incorporated several more based on participants’ suggestions and Kapp, a graphic designer, transformed the photos into simple line drawings that could be traced on to the stitching material.

PoMo’s beginnings as the terminus of the CP Rail line are marked with a large train heading down the tracks, and the significance of the Ioco refinery is represented with an image of the old red brick pump house that used to serve the townsite.

There is Col. Moody himself, the city’s namesake, and a modern-day kayaker enjoying the calm waters of Burrard Inlet.

And did you know PoMo once hosted a large television and radio manufacturing business? The old Chisholm Industries Ltd. building (the sprawling blue building on Electronic Avenue that was demolished two years ago) shows off the city’s manufacturing base.

There is city hall with its cherry trees (blue trunks and all) in full spring bloom, the museum, the Pleasantside Grocery store and a Clarke Street heritage home. PoMo’s natural surroundings are also well represented with a variety of trees and all manner of wildlife, from slugs to stellar jays.

And for some stitchers, the project has proved a fascinating way to further investigate PoMo’s history.

Kapp said a woman tasked with stitching a scene with two lumberjacks on a log found it was missing something — their tools. So she took it upon herself to research the typical tools of a logger from decades ago, and added them to the piece.

When most of the pieces have been stitched on to the painted backdrop it will be less of a map than a visual storyteller depicting Port Moody’s past and present; a diagram with a legend explaining the story behind each of the images is aimed at encouraging people to come back again and again to learn something new about their city.

A “stitch-in” is being planned for early in the new year where people can drop in at the city hall Galleria and stitch their own piece for the wall hanging.

Kitching said by the time the project is hung next spring, more than 5,000 volunteer hours by about 150 people will have been poured into it.

“So often art is done by a select few,” Kapp said. “We wanted this to be something many people actually had a hand in creating.”

Added Kitching: “We wanted something that would catch people’s imagination and show the wonderful place in which we live.”

Anyone interested in participating in the project can email sophiecat@shaw.ca or roszay@shaw.ca.

 

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