Feature Exhibits

Hope and Survival: The Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt Project

Jan. 15 – Feb. 28, 2018 Monday - Friday (Free Admission)


Installation at the Museum of Industry

Anyone familiar with artist Laurie Swim’s work, will appreciate the skill and attention-to-detail that imbue every scene she creates in quilt work. Hope and Survival is no exception.

In 2000, Laurie Swim read Janet Kitz’s Shattered City. This started her research of material for a huge memorial quilt for the 100th anniversary of the explosion. Over the next 14 years, Laurie researched and thought about the explosion while working on other projects. The resulting work commemorates the event and honours those killed and injured.

Detail from the quilt Hope and Survival


One story stood out for Laurie: the account of Barbara Orr, who lost all of her immediate family in the explosion. This young girl flew a quarter of a mile in the air. She was saved by landing on Fort Needham hill. In remembrance, Barbara donated the bells that are now part of the memorial of Fort Needham.

The image of the girl flying through the air became the focus of the center of the quilt.


Detail from the quilt Hope and Survival (image courtesy of Laurie Swim)

Detail from the quilt Hope and Survival (image courtesy of Laurie Swim)


Other images and scenes in the centerpiece are depictions of what took place during and after the explosion. A map shows the geography of Halifax Harbour with Bedford Basin at the one end, where convoys gathered to make the trip overseas.

The Narrows, where the collision took place, is also shown, along with the grid of the area called Richmond, the neighbourhood that was wiped out.

Detail from the quilt Hope and Survival

Detail from the quilt Hope and Survival

The clock, stopped by the blast, tells the time when the explosion happened.

The indigo blue of this work refers to the scars people were left with when carbon-saturated, black, oily rain coated them after the explosion. The fabric in the quilt was created using snow in the dye process to symbolize the horrendous snowstorm that followed the day after the explosion, greatly hampering rescue efforts.


The Scroll of Remembrance in Braille

One of 15 Braille “windows” featured as part of the Scroll of Remembrance.

One of 15 Braille “windows” featured as part of the Scroll of Remembrance.

The Scroll of Remembrance is a memorial to 1,946 people who died in the Explosion and could be named.

When Laurie designed Hope and Survival, she knew Braille would be a strong component in the work due to the many eye injuries that occurred. Translating the names of victims into Braille led to the collaboration with volunteers from across Nova Scotia and the Maritimes in beading the dots. 

Art in the Hall 2

January 15 – April 13, 2018

This is the second in a series of rotating installations of art by Pictou County artists. Curated by the Art At Large Collective, this show features seven new and emerging artists: Curtis Botham, Barbara Brown Conrod, Al Farthing, Joan Krawczyk, Dawn MacKenzie DeCoff,  Rachel Robitaille, Jon Raven Visser. Works include everything from carvings to weavings, charcoal drawings to photography-based multimedia. Open your eyes to the creativity among us by visiting this free show. The work featured includes:

Curtis Botham (New Glasgow Artist-In-Residence)

"The current open-pit coal mine in Stellarton burrowed through a network of century-old underground mine networks, exposing them to sunlight for the first time. My drawing depicts one of these unearthed mine passages. To create the drawing's foundation, I collected coal dust from the site of the former Westray Mine, and coated the paper with it. Mining has been part of Pictou County for 400 years, and I felt that integrating the coal dust into the drawing itself would unify the drawing with the history of the area, and also speak to the danger and tragedy that is so closely linked to mining. Nova Scotia relies more heavily on coal as fuel than any other Canadian province."


Dawn MacKenzie DeCoff

"Into the wind:a prayer for balance" (zoom detail)


The work began in 2003 and is ongoing.  It has been a record of my internal dialogue considering the future of life, community, environment and sustainable industry and the way all these things relate to, and are like our most precious resource:water.  A manifesto recorded with mindful mark making, careful balance of words, this piece is a response, a prayer, and a blueprint for the best future.


Jon Raven Visser


As a multimedia artist I first chose to take the photo of the graveyard with my manual fisheye lens, and then I used a series of wet platting and box camera filtering on the image to make it even more impactful.  There are many things you can see within the image... the circle within the square, the dirt and scratches, the uplifting sky … just to name a few.  It is much like the revolution of life and death and life again.