Tunnels at Lakeshore grounds open for art tour of past

by | Mar 3, 2017 | Campus News, News

The historic underground tunnel system at
Lakeshore campus highlights its past as a psychiatric hospital. (Photo: Ruth Escarlan)

Lucia Yglesias

News Reporter

Inspired by the history of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, Ontario painters Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward recover the essence of what Humber College’s Lakeshore Campus was in the 19 centuries in a 24-piece collection, Secrets of An Ever Changing Landscape.

“We liked the fact that grounds were transformed dramatically over the past 100 years. Time and transformation are something we play with all the time, and the word ‘lunatic’ is an evolving idea,” said Ward, regarding one of her pieces called ‘Luna.’

Luna refers to how the term lunatic was derived from a belief that the moon affected a person’s mental state. But it has long been use in a derogatory sense.

Secrets of an Ever Changing Landscape was launched Feb. 25 in a pop-up art show, and for the first time, in the tunnels that run underneath the Lakeshore campus.

The collection includes pastel drawings, acrylic paintings on wood, and photographs inspired by the ex-Mimico Branch Asylum and surroundings.

“Gary and Victoria’s collection was particularly interesting for this because it was inspired so directly, not only by the changing landscape but by the structure,” said Jennifer Bazar, curator at the Lakeshore Ground Interpretive Centre. “The tunnels were a big part of it. You can see in their collection how many pieces of the tunnels are featured.”

Moved by the history and the untold stories from the previous Mimico Branch Asylum, Blundell said he felt a connection to the remnants of the tunnels built by patients and how the college structure is today.

“There were people who worked down here, but that time is gone, so the tunnels are kind of a metaphor for me on a transition of time and how things are changing. How this is not that place anymore but there are these bits of it still hanging around reminding us how this came about in the first place,” said Blundell.

The pieces were created for a Take Over Instagram Project done during September and October 2016, and they are still available as a digital exhibit in Lakeshore Grounds website.

“Connecting all those pieces together and then using this historical and inspired art project in a historic space is really powerful,” said Bazar.

Behind the Bricks: Recovering the Stories of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital explores and invites the community to help collect the history of the Hospital, and Through A Lens, Brightly is a photographic wildlife exhibition by Nancy Barrett. Both projects are currently available on the Student Welcome and Resource Centre.