It’s been five years since Toronto hotelier Jeff Stober opened Drake Devonshire in the perennial classic getaway destination Prince Edward County. Now more than ever, with travel restrictions in effect and everyone getting tired of looking at the same 4 walls, the need to be elsewhere has never been stronger. Just a couple hours drive from Toronto and about the same from Montreal, PEC is a wonderful getaway in wine country, full of beautiful beaches and an ever-emerging culinary scene.
From the moment you turn off Main Street in Wellington to enter the property, you feel the presence of contemporary art start to sway you away from that quaint B&B vibe and over to a more sophisticated lakeside experience. If you’ve ever been to The Drake in Toronto, you know the feeling. The 13-room boutique hotel features a lovely restaurant, bar, and an outside patio with a remarkable view of Lake Ontario, especially at sunset. Opened all year long the hotel features great cultural programming, a plethora of services designed to help you get the most out of the region, we HIGHLY recommend arranging for the hotel to take you on a tour of the local wineries with your own driver, and of course a remarkable on property art collection.
When it comes to the art at the Drake Devonshire, each piece was selected and placed on the property with very specific intention. The collection in PEC is made up of permeant and rotating pieces brought in to help complement and amplify the space. One of the great aspects of the collection is the large number of pieces that lay outside of the main structure, placed across the property. This acts as a wonderful outdoor museum/gallery, something that we don’t often find in Canada due to our extreme seasonal shifts in weather. However, in our experience exploring outdoor museums across the world, there is something wholly unique to experiencing art outside the confines of the gallery. Seeing how it compliments and plays out in the world.
One of the first pieces you encounter as you arrive on the property is AFTERGLOW / Aftergrowth (shown above in the header) by Calgary based artists Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett. The piece is an old tree stump covered in decorative patterns of reflective, prismatic material on nail heads. This causes the appearance to shift and shimmer throughout the day. Beyond that at the front door is a site-specific installation by Alex Morrison who delicately cut aluminum panels and placed them together to create a lantern with abstracted faces that “kiss” at the corners, greeting and sending off everyone who passes through the doors.
One-piece that was meant to be temporary but left such an impact on both the property and the visitors that it became part of the permeant collection, is New Shade. Comprised of lettering suspended above the creek that runs through the property, created by Trevor Wheatley and Cosmo Dean. The artwork is designed to act as a portal to take you, the viewer, away into someone else’s world and in doing so helps to create bridges between people who may never meet in real life. As Drake curator Ashely Mulvihill states, “Drake Art is about making connections between our artists and our guests, or anyone who might be interested in their process or philosophy. It’s really important that we communicate their messages to the wider public as we see the value of art as a healing and communication tool.”
This viewpoint resonates with us even more so now than ever before as we are asked to look both within ourselves and at the societal structures that have been built around us. Now is the time to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes and understand where we all are coming from, even if we never meet.
While we only just touched on the individual pieces that The Drake Devonshire has, there are numerous others all worth the attention. Instead of us telling you about each, we instead encourage you to make the trip to PEC to discover the whole collection, in context. While in town, stay a night or two and explore what the “county” has to offer. If you are just passing through, make a reservation at The Drake restaurant (ask for a table with a view) and either before or after your meal walk around the property and be prepared to be swept away.
(Can’t wait to get there yourself but still are interested in the art? Well here’s a little art tour courtesy of Drake curator Ashely Mulvihill. Enjoy.)