‘Miniature cabinets of wonders’ can be found in Mary Allen neighbourhood

One of the 16 cabinets in Paul Roorda's 'The Time Stops Project.''. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

If you go for a stroll around the Mary Allen neighbourhood of Kitchener, you will likely notice a series of cabinets attached to utility poles.

Take a stop, and look inside the glass doors of the boxes and you will notice that they contain a menagerie of treasures inside.

There are 16 boxes filled with varying vintage or found objects including everything from black and white photos to optometrist lenses to barometers. Each one of the cabinets has a little winder on the outside which when wound, will play an unrecognizable tune.

A map of the cabinets in ‘The Time Stops Project.”
A map of the cabinets in ‘The Time Stops Project.”

The boxes are the work of Waterloo region artist Paul Roorda who says he hopes his “miniature cabinets of wonders” will force people to break out of their routine for a moment.

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“It’s just sort of a gentle challenge to pay attention rather than carrying on the normal route you would take,” Roorda explained.

He installed the boxes initially last fall but was asked to remove them as he didn’t have the city’s permission. Waterloo has since allowed Roorda to reinstall “The Time Stops Project.”

Roorda, whose work has been featured in galleries across the province as well as the U.S., believes that his art installation will allow his work to be seen by people who normally would not get an opportunity to.

“I really liked the idea of getting artwork out in the public space rather than just galleries,” Roorda explained. “It gets it to a completely different audience.”

“The Time Stops Project” is a natural progression for Roorda.

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“A lot of my work is similar in terms of using vintage or antique objects, found objects and arranging and modifying and altering them — I do that sort of work for my pieces of other galleries,” he explained.

Roorda hopes that the combination of barometers, clock parts, clocks as well as old photos and other items will get his message across.

“The overall theme is the quick, and yet, gradual change in the climate,” Roorda explained. “By combining the images of skies or floods or weather events along with barometers and recording devices as well as the clocks, I am trying to get at the sense of the quick passage of time as we watch the climate change.”

One of the 16 cabinets in Paul Roorda’s ‘The Time Stops Project.” Kevin Nielsen / Global News

Careful thought was also put into preparing the musical element of “The Time Stops Project.”

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“I basically broke off a bunch of the prongs which basically would change a familiar tune, make it into something a little more mysterious, maybe a little more melancholy,” he said. “That was just to sort of keep it amusing, and keep it a little more interesting but to also fit a little bit more with the feelings we are having about the future.”

You may not get the theme unless you consider several pieces from his tryptic.

“If you look at one, it is a bit mystifying or it is a bit cryptic, but if you look at a number of them, you may start to see a pattern in the objects that I am selecting for the boxes.”

“The Time Stops Project” will be in the Mary Allen neighbourhood for a week or so longer before moving to neighbourhoods in Waterloo West. Roorda expects to bring it to Kitchener in the fall although it is undecided where it will land.

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