Pumpkin installation lights up village

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From left are Caelan Barker, student artist; with lead graphic designers  Dave Hurtubise, Liam Mills, and  Carli Smelko, student artist.

For a group of student artists from the region, Halloween started earlier this summer in the form of an art installation project like no other, which will be on exhibit at the entrance of Upper Canada Village from Thanksgiving to the end of October.

A team of a dozen or so young and talented designers, sculptors, painters, carvers, and carpenters have been very busy for the last couple of months putting together a new conceptual even which will be held at the historic site next month, bringing their PumpkInferno to life.

The exhibit will features a variety of scenes and themes created, using over 4000 polyurethane foam pumpkins of varying sizes, some individually carved with pictures and others constructed into large-scale structures, with over 6000 lights to illuminate them.

There are a number of themed exhibits, inspiration for which was drawn from a number of sources, explained Neil Shorthouse, project manager, for what he calls  agricultural art exhibit. “Not just Halloween. Some are inspired by the village and others are cultural exhibits, celebrating the year of the dragon, (for example).”

Other themes include, a pirate vignette and Polynesian setting, among many others, some using the character and features of the village as a backdrop.

“It’s like a light at night in a way, that it is taking the assets we have,” said Jancis Summerville, special events officer for the St Lawrence Parks Commission. “This is such a unique venue, and to use it when it would normally be dormant is what’s so great.”

“It was in complete darkness (before A Light at Night), said Summerville.  “We’re in a rural area, and to see it come alive at night, it’s just amazing.  All of a sudden, throngs of people - close to 40,000 coming through in December - where you never used to see that.”

Although the event is very different from A Light at Night, Summerville says that they are hoping to create the same excitement in October.

PumpkInferno will be assembled throughout a path, at the entrance of the village, which visitors will follow, touring it much like an art exhibit, taking about an hour or so to go through, she added.

The exhibit, which will now be an annual event, was funded in part by a $75,000 Celebrate Ontario grant that went towards the purchase of the pumpkins.

Also on exhibit will be the creations of local elementary school students who will be provided with a real gourd to design and carve, from the village garden.

“It’s a celebration of all these youthful, artistic people from elementary school to university,” said Sommerville.

For further information about the project and event schedule visit www.pumpkinferno.com.

Organizations: St Lawrence Parks Commission

Geographic location: Upper Canada Village

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