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Antigonish Art House programs for one and all

Chloe Sinclair-Fortin (right) has run an arts program at the Art House for moms/caregivers and babies. It concluded this month but may be offered, once again, in the New Year.
Chloe Sinclair-Fortin (right) has run an arts program at the Art House for moms/caregivers and babies. It concluded this month but may be offered, once again, in the New Year. - Richard MacKenzie

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - It’s a location that once celebrated all that Antigonish and area offered for tourists. Now, it houses a celebration of art.

The former Antigonish Visitor Information Centre in the Market Square parking lot (near Boston Pizza) is now the Art House and amongst its programs is a Monday morning one run by Chloe Sinclair-Fortin for moms/caregivers and babies.

“I was really excited to get involved with this new venue and offer something different to the community,” Sinclair-Fortin said, as moms dabbled in paint and paper, some with babies in their arms and others with babies sitting or lying nearby. 

“It’s art you can do while you’re holding a baby, or projects you do while your mind is half on baby … simple but fun,” she said, the fun part evidenced by the laughter and smiles of the moms as they created and enjoyed one another’s company in the warm and cozy Art House space.

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Sinclair-Fortin, a 2009 graduate from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, talked about the origins of the program.

“Over the past year I have been taking part in the various mom and baby groups around town. I realized the importance of getting caregivers with small children together for community and support,” she said.

“The idea for a moms’ and caregivers’ art workshop was inspired by BaBe (building a breastfeeding environment group) who held an art morning for moms at the Arts House in celebration of breastfeeding week, which I attended as a participant.

“It seemed like the interest for something like this was definitely there. I really love the idea of nurturing parents’ and caregivers creativity. As caregivers of young children, we are constantly giving and we never get to do much for ourselves. Making art is soothing, stress relieving and satisfying. It was fun to design a program that would be baby friendly, but focused on parents and caregivers making art.”

Artist Chloe Sinclair-Fortin (left) working with the participants in her  moms' and caregivers' art workshop,
Artist Chloe Sinclair-Fortin (left) working with the participants in her moms' and caregivers' art workshop,

Sinclair-Fortin noted the program she set up was accessible to anyone, meaning someone who often created or a first-time artist, and the feedback she was receiving was very positive.

“People are really loving it,” she said, noting the parents liked the idea of doing something different, while still staying closely connected to their baby.

Speaking during a Nov. 19 session, Sinclair-Fortin said there was one more Monday on the schedule before the program concluded, but they may bring it back in the New Year.

She noted the place to stay in touch with her program, and everything else being offered at the Art House, is by visiting the Antigonish Art Fair website at antigonishartfair.ca and following the Art House link, as well as the art fair’s Facebook page.

As for the space to create, Sinclair-Fortin said it’s a welcome addition to the Antigonish art creation landscape.

“I think it’s amazing; there is a huge need for it,” she said.

“People are coming in and saying ‘finally.’ They offer a whole bunch of things for kids and adults; I think it fills a huge need in the community … I’m very happy about it.”

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