It is not hard to spot the artwork of local artist Audrée Bourdeau throughout the Haut-Saint-Laurent. Her series of painted giant butterflies can be found in all 13 municipalities, and now she is inviting the residents of Saint-Chrysostome to enjoy another hunt of sorts with a community-inspired “search-and-find” panel in Cécile-Rochefort Park.
“This new work represents all the love I have for our village, the countryside, and its people,” says Bourdeau, who took to social media following the inauguration of the piece on July 15 to describe the homage to her hometown. “I wanted to paint everything!” she exclaims, while acknowledging choices had to be made about what to include. “I tried to represent as much diversity as possible, to appeal to both the oldest and youngest among us,” she explains.
The large-scale painting represents 70 hours of dedicated work and includes 186 characters. It features houses, buildings, businesses, and events, including some that have disappeared or been transformed over the years. Some scenes are real, like the Halloween decor adorning her childhood home, and certain characters were created from photographs, including two class photos, a group of firefighters, and several citizens. Bourdeau says she even included a few much-loved community members that have passed away. “Almost every element has some sort of meaning,” she admits.
Bourdeau has created three other search-and-find paintings which are currently on display at the Verger du Pirate and the Antoine-Labelle Park in Saint-Antoine-Abbé, as well as in Sainte-Clotilde; but she says this one was by far the most challenging. “The fact that I’m deeply attached to my village and know every nook and cranny, every building and every family, made it difficult for me, because I had far too many ideas for the space available,” she explains, noting she also had to include different elements or details for people to find.
Bourdeau was also careful to reach out to her fellow Chrysostomiens for their ideas and photos, so the panel represents collective memories from the community as well. She says she was especially pleased to unveil the panel during the family festival in Saint-Chrysostome. “I was able to discuss it with many people, and that made me extremely happy!” she exclaims.