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vintage portrait

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Unidentified Portrait #1 – Story by Mat Calverley

This past fall, I put a call out to the community to submit creative writing entries to accompany unidentified portraits in The Thomas Bouckley Collection. With ten portraits to choose from, submissions included diary entries, letters, short stories, poetry and even a dating profile. I was so pleased with the number we received and the quality! The project resulted in an exhibition that is currently on display at the RMG until May 1st. Due to spatial restrictions, I wasn’t able to include all of the submissions, however, I will be posting two additional stories each week on the blog for all to enjoy. A huge thank you to everyone who participated!

On April 7th, join us for an evening with the Durham Folklore Storytellers. Using the submissions to the Their Stories exhibition as inspiration, the Durham Folklore Storytellers will take listeners on a journey to imagine the lives of these unidentified people.

– Sonya Jones, Associate Curator

 

Portrait #1

My dearest Emma,

If you receive this then my greatest work has failed. At dawn this morning I set out to walk across the Niagara Gorge. I hoped to do it until I break the record for fastest crossing. Even my friends think me crazy. They say “Cliff, why would a man who works off the ground want to spend his free time there”. Tell them I did this because I want to meet the sky on my terms.

I have been preparing for this my whole life. As a boy I there was no tree in all of Simcoe country that I could not climb. Working on chimneys and steeples seemed like the logical career. But over time, that place that I loved became only a place where I worked. I see Toronto now- a city that defies our limitations- and want to feel the freedom that that city must feel.

I do not expect to make money off of this endeavour. But then it would not be a labour of love. I hope that this letter will never be delivered; but if it must, I need you to understand why I stepped out this morning.

With love,

Clifford

 

By: Mat Calverley