Meaning of Hermitage

What does the Hermitage mean to you?  This is the question posed by Leanne Pluthero and Marla Loretta (on Aug 22nd), organizers behind the Save the Hermitage Facebook page.  Artist Chris Erskine tries to answer this question as an individual and as an artist.

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

The 1875 McClure House Painting Sketch Project – Part 2

Sorry for the rough quality of the video, but ran out of memory on my SDRC card.

Artist Chris Erskine continues with his painting sketch of the 1875 McClure House located west of Toronto. Mr. McClure was a stage coach-hotel business person. The location is half-way between Hamilton and Toronto. People would travel by stage coach from the 1830s to the turn of the 1880s. This is the fourth visit to this location.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Fate of Hermitage Hangs in the Balance

This Tuesday, the Heritage Permit Review Sub-Committee will decide the fate of the Hermitage Ruins, located in Ancaster, Ontario.

At issue is how much of the Hermitage will be saved.  The Hamilton Conservation (HCA) authority is proposing to reduce the surviving walls to a height of 3 feet, except for the area immediately around the main entrance to the mansion.

The HCA case for partial demolition of the Hermitage is based on safety and costs.

The safety argument is based on people jumping off walls seems a bit of a stretch.  If that is the standard for safety then the gates at Dundurn Castle will need to be torn down.

If the argument is that the walls may collapse then proper fencing around the structure (until proper restoration work is performed) should address any insurance concerns.

People, who knowingly climb over or under fencing that is setup to protect them from falling stones, should no longer be able to hold the Hamilton Conservation Authority responsible. This is why the City puts up fencing and signage around construction sites.

With regards to the money, the Hamilton Conservation Authority is a large organization with significant resources available to it, much more than the average home owner.

In addition to its own budget, it has access to further resources through its foundation (including the ability to fund-raise).  Therefore, there is no financial reason why the HCA cannot do full and proper restoration work.

Furthermore, the HCA has had stewardship responsibilities for over 40 years, lots of time for them to plan and set aside funds for proper restoration work.  The issue isn’t money or safety, its values. It appears that the HCA does not value the Hermitage Ruins, and if you do not value something, why would you invest in proper restoration.

When the HCA comes before the Committee on June 24th, it is my hope that the Permits Committee will stand up for our heritage and say no to any request for a partial demolition.

In my view, the job of the Permits Committee is to protect our designated heritage, not smooth the path towards it destruction.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

 

 

Hamilton Artist Update 18: Heritage Permit Review Subcommittee

Sorry for the long delay, but was sick for the past few days.

The issue facing the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is whether they are going to step up to the plate and protect designated heritage buildings that speak to a time when Ancaster was known for its mineral waters.

Despite the significant decay of the structure, the Hermitage still sparks the imagination of visitors for a time when we were connected to the land and the seasons. Over the past two months, I have made several drawings (session 1, session 2) of the building over 2-3 hour sittings, and dozens of individuals and groups have told me how much they love the place.

What the HCA is proposing is the demolition of a heritage site that they are responsible for maintaining. A four foot wall does not save any of the designated architectural features. The only reason they are willing save a four foot wall is the cost to demolish completely the building is about the same.

The only thing more outrageous than the HCA proposal is the Heritage Permit Review Sub-committee willingness even to consider their application. The committee’s job is to protect designated heritage buildings, not to ease their path to destruction.

There was very little discussion about how the HCA should change their plans so that Georgian symmetry of the surviving building is preserved, nor saving the remains of second floor Italianate windows, or French windows below that once allowed access to a long gone veranda; nor saving the surviving ring beam that was once supported by corbels.

It appears that the only people on the committee who seem understand the purpose of the committee is to save heritage is Joseph Zidanic and Rebecca Beatty. Mr. Zidanic was particularly effective in pointing out that the HCA has owned the property since 1972 and commissioned many reports over the past 40 years, but they have done little more than quick fixes.

It times for the HCA to set up to plate and start properly taking care of the Hermitage; even if the Board doesn’t consider it part of their strategic mission of watershed management.

(The above comments were first published on the Raise the Hammer website).

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Save the Hermitage Ruins

On May 27, 2014 – the Heritage Permits Sub-Committee will be deciding the future of the Hermitage Ruins located in Ancaster.  The Hamilton Conservation Authority wants to demolish the ruins to a height of 3 feet.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec

Hamilton Artist Update 14: Standing Out

A weekly review of art related activities by artist, Chris Erskine. Updates are posted every Monday.

This week:
1.) New Name
2.) Standing Out From The Crowd
3.) Going Live
4.) The Hermitage Ruins

1. New Name

I have re-named my weekly update to Hamilton Artist Update. I hope this name achieves three goals:

– it will appear in searches of Hamilton

– it will clearly associate myself with Hamilton, Ontario

– the order of postings will be clearer

This last point was inspired by the Youtube channel called “This Week in Tech.” They have over 400 episodes, and their numbering system seems to be a very good way of organizing videos and blog postings.

2. Standing Out From the Crowd

I find it truly amazing how little is available on Hamilton via Youtube, blogs, and websites. So, given the small size of this internet universe, you would think my Youtube or Blog would appear easily in search engine results. My name is buried by Chris Erskine the soccer player or the L.A. Times columnist. My blog “Fat Cats and Starving Dogs” is lost among the references to the movie, Margin Call.

I am impressed by Bruce Jones and his work on using Google and Youtube to promote your channel. He is very helpful in explaining the logic behind search engine results and how you can use it to market your products or services.

As a result, I have tried to re-shape the words that describe my video content so that my material appears more readily in search engine results.

3. Going Live

This past week, I also came across Steve Garfield’s channel on Youtube via Bruce Jones. Steve Garfield provides another perspective on making your blogs and Youtube channels stand out from the crowd. However, what struck me most was how he used live video to gain exposure on national American networks. Now, I not interested in that sort of thing, but it got me thinking of different sorts of art events that I could broadcast to the community. Combining Steve Garfield’s examples with some of the things that Bruce Jones was suggesting, and I can see a whole new range of possibilities.

For example, broadcasting live from one of my sketching locations. I always get a lot attention and feedback from the public. Now, I can incorporate that reaction into a video that can also be archived and playback later.

So, for the past few days, I have worked on the mechanics of doing live video and what locations might have Wi-Fi access.

4. The Hermitage Ruins

Hermitage Ruins, Hamilton (Ancaster), Ontario
Hermitage Ruins, Hamilton (Ancaster), Ontario

As I have already mentioned, the Permit’s Sub-committee has delayed their consideration of the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s request for a partial demolition of the Hermitage Ruins out in Ancaster. At the moment, the foundation is weakening and the HCA solution is to tear the surviving walls down to a height of three feet. The Permits sub-committee occurs on the same night and time as Hamilton City Council, so I understand that they will change to a new date so that more people can attend the meeting.

 

Chris Erskine

chriserskineartist@gmail.com

@erskinec