What you see in these 5 panels are photographs of the Salvation Army Grace General Hospital and the nurses’ residence, from several different angles. I took the photographs just after the Grace Hospital closed in the year 2000. Overlaid on the photographs are two different sets of text, separated into the left side and the right side on each panel. The two sides are meant to show the different kinds of history that a place can have — there’s the official history and then there are the personal stories. And of course, they intersect. This is one of my abiding interests as an artist — the flexible, elusive, and constantly changing layers of meaning in places.
All the panels are hung on a scarlet red background, which is the colour for the Salvation Army.
On the left hand side of each panel are bits of different printed text I found in 3 main sources:
- first, I researched the Grace archives and annual reports going back several decades;
- second, I explored around inside the building, and I used some of the printed signs and messages I found posted up on walls and taped inside cupboards;
- third, and perhaps the most telling of all in conveying what these panels commemoratewhen I was in the building, just after it closed, I found graffiti written on the walls by the staff during the last days they worked there. These messages echo the staff’s own heartfelt feelings about the Grace, and I’ve brought some of these messages forward by transcribing them onto these panels. Otherwise, not many people would have ever seen them.
For example, here’s the message I found written across the wall in the room called the “Father’s Lounge” outside Labour & Delivery. It was signed by the nurses of the neonatal intensive care unit, and it’s on the third panel:
“God bless all those who anxiously waited here for the birth of sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. May the echoes of your joy and laughter resound here forever within these walls.”