What was once an empty lot in Halifax’s north end, is now a healing garden in memory of Raymond Taavel.
The project is the brainchild of Brian Pace, a Toronto-based artist vacationing here in Halifax.
Pace says he was walking past a small makeshift memorial on the fence across from where the activist was killed, when he felt compelled to build the garden.
“The area is still very traumatized by such a brutal death,” he says.
The artist has spent much of the past four weeks clearing the lot and building sculptures from found material. Spending sometimes up to six hours a day, five days a week on the project.
“I know this is sacred work, I know that this is pure creativity and that is a healing process in itself.”
Pace didn’t know Taavel, who was beaten to death outside a Gottingen street bar in April of last year, but he says he feels his presence when he’s working on the garden.
“There are two white butterflies who showed up the day that I first started working here, which was July 19th,” he says. “Whenever I see them, I feel that perhaps indeed he is here.”
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A feeling he believes was confirmed when Taavel’s partner came to visit the garden.
“I pointed out that there were two butterflies who are always here every time I’m here, he said that gives him the chills. He said when Raymond Taavel’s parents came for the funeral, he took them to their apartment and when he opened the window in came two white butterflies and he said, I don’t know, why, he just said: ‘oh my God, Raymond’s here’.”
Pace says he plans to return to Toronto in two weeks, but will continue to work on the garden until then.
“One other thing I want to do before I leave this space is I want to bring really vibrant brilliant colour to the place in point of flowers”
For that to happen, Pace says he’s now accepting donations in return for heart-shaped pieces he’s finding and wrapping with material, all from the site. All the money raised, he says, will going towards buying those flowers.