Felicity Tayler (in collaboration with Denis Longchamps)
Picturesque Views of the Quartier


Picturesque views of the Quartier is an artists’ book that recreates the 1964 printing of Elizabeth Simcoe’s travel diary from the 18th century. It is both the reproduction of an historical document and acts as the present-day documentation of Pictorial Propaganda, a public art performance in downtown Montreal.

Picturesque views of the Quartier was produced as a result of an exchange and collaboration with the art historian Denis Lonchamps whose PhD thesis examined Mrs. Simcoe’s watercolours as documents of her travels through Upper and Lower Canada. This book is now used as course reading in Prof. Cynthia Hammond’s City as Palimpsest graduate seminar at Concordia University. The book was produced using print on demand to make it accessible to students and in order to extend the performance into the “creator driven” public space of web production.

This performance of Pictorial Propaganda took place as part of the exhibition Mobile Space / Espace mobile, curated by Patrice Loubier and Marie-Josée Jean at VOX, image contemporain. The exhibition asked artists with process-based practices to examine the Quartier des spectacles as part of Montréal’s re-branding through culture as a “creative city.” Pictorial Propaganda positioned this re-branding as the most recent of many phases of economic development in the city’s history. The performance elicited public opinion on the impact (socioeconomic and environmental) of these changes. Locations within the Quartier were identified as “Picturesque.” Many of these sites exemplified the duality between commercial and emergent culture, as well as the polarized income and social status inherent to the theory of the “creative class” and the knowledge economy. In some of these locations, views of Montréal originally painted in 1792 by Mrs. Elizabeth Simcoe (wife of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada) were reproduced. As people passed by the artist on their daily trajectory, they stopped to share their thoughts in response to the imagery of a pre-industrial era. If they chose, they could also negotiate a trade to take possession of the painting reproductions.

Published by Centre de recherche urbaine de Montréal
11×17 cm, 50 pages, black and white, 2009
Open edition


Available from the artist.

Felicity Tayler’s artistic practice employs an interdisciplinary approach combining training in visual arts (painting and drawing) with the competencies and theoretical framework of information science. She is interested in the use of visual representation as an information carrier – be it 18th century topographic watercolours, the output of 1960s office technology, or present-day online communication through the portable document format. This interest in document forms and function is coupled with an enquiry into collaboration and public space – be it the contested public space of the contemporary urban environment, or an intellectual public space that is equally fraught with contradictions regarding ownership and access. Dialectical narratives and collapsing moments in time, as well as questions of tropes such as landscape and national identity, or the late 20th century idea of the Information Age, are the content within the formal construction of her work.   Tayler has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and has exhibited nationally at organizations such as the Owens Art Gallery, the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, and Pierre François Ouellette art contemporain. In 2010 she will present an exhibition of artists’ publications at the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

The Centre de recherche urbaine de Montréal (CRUM) is a symbiotic (parasitic) research group with no exhibition space of its own. It uses pre-existing networks to present diverse projects. The CRUM is composed of five members with varied backgrounds — architectural theory, information science, experimental sound composition, urban aesthetics, and universal maintenance — who share a common interest in collaboratively exploring links between art and urban space. See: http://www.crum.ca