From the farm to Main Street

Andrew Wagstaff
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Recycled materials turn heads as artistic creations

Five Islands artist Doris Soley and her husband Claude are excited to have several of her garden art sculptures on display on Main Street in Parrsboro for the summer, including "My Father's Barber Shop," now on display at the town hall property.

PARRSBORO – It’s not everywhere that you find a street decorated with ballet dancers, penny-farthings and an old barbershop. Nowhere except Parrsboro will you find that and more created from recycled farm equipment.

Last weekend the town’s Main Street was decorated with a series of pieces by Five Islands artist Doris Soley, who has been engaged by the town’s project facilitator, Taylor Redmond, as part of the effort to spruce up the downtown area.

“Taylor invited me to perhaps show 1-2 pieces, and she almost fell over when I asked her how she’d like to have the whole thing for the summer,” said Soley. “No pussy footing around, I said we’ll do it from June to September.”

The whole project started when Soley and her husband Claude inherited a farm from the Taylor family on Taylor Lane in Five Islands. On the property was a blacksmith shop full of iron, in a building in such a state of disrepair that it was falling down.

“So Claude tore it down and piled the iron up,” she explained. “He was going to throw it away and I said, ‘No, leave it, and I’ll do something in memory of the people who lived there.’ Because they were very hard-working, and all they accomplished with that hard work was a warm place to live and something to eat.”

She gathered up the ample materials and spent the next 10-12 years putting together some creative pieces of artwork that have been drawing visitors to their 30-acre property ever since.

Several of those pieces are now on display on Parrsboro’s Main Street, including “My Father’s Barber Shop,” a detailed display at the town hall property that features her father, John Durant, cutting fellow barber Jerry Gillespie’s hair, while other well-known Parrsboro barbers Bob Yorke and Pidge Morris look on.

Other pieces include a large bouquet of flowers at Gavin Park, monkeys riding three penny farthing bicycles near St. George’ Anglican Church, an English lady with a parasol in front of the Aliant building, ballet dancers near From Away, and many more.

The display is just the beginning of things to come on Main Street, according to Redmond.

“Eventually we want to have a variety of sculptures on the street,” she said.

The original idea for the town’s historical storyboards was to get an artist to interpret that storyboard and then do a sculpture, combining history with modern-day artistry.

“Because it takes time and money to make those things happen, we knew Doris had this wonderful exhibit, so she’s our introduction,” said Redmond. “It’s really fabulous to have it here.”

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Barber Shop, Anglican Church, Aliant

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Taylor Lane, Gavin Park

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Recent comments

  • shirley evans
    May 30, 2013 - 15:49

    Your work is wonderful couldn't think of anything less of my sister.See you in july

  • grace paltrineri
    May 29, 2013 - 08:39

    incredibly talented artist with a great imagination --looking forward to seeing the beautifacation of main st parrsboro when we visit in august and also toasting my cousin Doris

  • charlene roberts
    May 28, 2013 - 22:40

    Can't wait to see main street Parrsboro when I am home this summer. It all sounds wonderful. Will particularly be curious to see the English lady with parasol. Charlene Roberts(DeLouchery/Carey) Historic costumer Kitchener, Ontario

  • Gail Wagstaff
    May 28, 2013 - 16:45

    Wonderful to see the fruition of this obvious labor of love by a gifted artist.I think these sculptures are so unique and will provoke a lot of interest and discussion.Great article as well Andrew.(Moms can show their pride).