A group of local artists met on Saturday to give out paintings, drawings and embroideries to people who lost homes and pets during the Halifax-area wildfires in late May.
Emotions were high as people picked up the custom artwork at the Hammonds Plains Community Centre. Many burst into tears as they saw the framed piece featuring their home, now destroyed, or a pet now gone.
After witnessing hundreds of her fellow Nova Scotians lose everything, artist Brynn Budden wanted to use her creativity to help people commemorate their losses.
She put a call out on Instagram for other artists who could help her vision come to light. She said about 100 wanted to participate
Brynn Budden is an artist and the organizer of this project. (Celina Aalders/CBC)
Ultimately, Budden received 40 submissions from people requesting artwork, and 30 artists spent the past couple months working on the pieces.
"I really hope it's an added piece of closure to something so tragic," said Budden. "We really wanted to find a way to preserve these significant things for people, forever."
Courtney Stevens's family home in the Highland Park subdivision was destroyed in the fires. Now, they cherish a watercolour painting of it.
Molly the chocolate lab, a coloured-pencil drawing by tattoo artist Megan Anthony. (Celina Aalders/CBC)
"We'll definitely put it in our rental until our new house is built, and we'll definitely put it up in our new house as a reminder of how lucky we are to be back," said Stevens.
Many of the participating artists were at the community centre to hand off their creations. Most exchanged hugs and smiles with those directly affected by the wildfires. Some even shared a good cry.
"The house that I made had a big porch with chairs — how they would have memories of sitting on those chairs and wouldn't be able to do that anymore," embroidery artist Jordan Elliot said through tears.
"It's a really, really heartbreaking thing to lose your whole home."
Jordan Elliott is an embroidery artist. (Celina Aalders/CBC)
Tattoo artist Megan Anthony rarely does custom drawings, but said she wanted to be involved in this initiative. She made a coloured-pencil drawing of Molly, a beloved chocolate lab who died in the fires.
Emily Pillar created an embroidery of Giant Steps, an Upper-Tantallon daycare centre destroyed in the blaze.
"I hope it's something sentimental that they can look at and remember," said Pillar.
Some people, like Stevens, had friends or loved ones submit a request for an art piece on their behalf as a surprise gesture.
Budden just hopes that she and her fellow artists were able to capture the true essence of what once was for these families.
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