Here at T+K, we have a bit of an obsession with Canadian design, and what we call Canadian Spectatorship. We want to make friends with that new tech start-up from Halifax, visit the roadside yard zoos of B.C., and chase down the origin story of beautiful pieces of vintage Canadian design rescued from small-town flea markets.
Our staff is full of curious and creative graphic designers, web developers, content producers, business-minds and project managers who are always on the lookout for beautiful Canadian art and design from days gone by, artifacts of the trials and errors of interesting people attempting interesting things, under-appreciated, the random, and the just plain weird.
While we’re on the topic of ‘weird’…
I recently got back from a family vacation out East. I had done the West coast to Ontario drive before, and had been anxious to tour the Maritime provinces.
I went into the trip with the initial idea of documenting interesting typography and local wayfinding along the way, but I strayed from that idea quite quickly. Two reasons were to blame for the change of plans:
- It’s hard not to feel like a jerk making a million stops with a car full of kids (three to be exact).
- I was staying at a cottage which was a five-minute walk from something so much better.
For the past 30+ years,Desiré Goguen has been constructing some very unique sculptures in an improvised outdoor museum that has caused many a casual motorist to pull over and wonder “What the @#%$ is this?” The museum sits along the Acadian Coastal Drive in Cap Pelé, New Brunswick and is rather hard to miss with its many sculptures and arrangements of curated objects crafted into representative structures and themes ranging from religious matter to family memorials to the departed to life-size historical action scenarios.
I took the opportunity to visit Goguen’s Musée de l’art Brut on a rainy and depressing afternoon while the family stayed inside and pieced together a Star Wars puzzle. After some puzzled, self-guided exploration photographing every piece on his lawn, I was approached by Desiré himself, a short and sturdy 92-year-old Acadian East Coaster decked out in plaid with a moustache that would shame the league of Toronto hipsters.
Desiré spoke French and a little English and myself, shamefully poor French. We laughed, shook hands, and got by on single words and gestures. He gave me the full tour and even showed me some ‘easter eggs’ hidden within a couple of his creations, though the spicy subject matter is not fit to post here, I can attest that they showed a healthy adult appetite.
After the guided tour, I was asked inside to ‘see his monkeys’. Without any context, I was admittedly a little creeped out, but intrigued. As I stepped inside his home, I was near blinded by the sight of literally thousands of monkeys. For the last eight years, Desire has collected over 5,000 plush primates of all sizes, types, and studio affiliations. Like his raw sculpture, he was immensely proud of his collection. Of course he has his favourites, which were in prime(ate) locations throughout the house. Mine was an original Harry and The Hendersons doll. I politely chose not to say anything.
I love discovering people who live truly non-traditional and interesting lives driven by a creative compulsion or passion. I’d much rather spend time talking with these people then doing the usual sightseeing. Maybe one day I’ll move the whole family into the woods and start some crazy art commune.
No monkeys though. That’s been done.