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Donated paintings to be displayed at Bracebridge Sportsplex

Five paintings will be displayed at the Bracebridge Sportsplex after being donated by Pat Fairhead.

The long-time Muskoka resident says she recently suffered a serious back injury after a bad fall and credits the staff at the sportsplex for helping her get back on her feet – literally. “I have received so much here,” she said during the unveiling of the paintings Wednesday morning. Fairhead specifically credited the hydrotherapy staff for supporting her. 

Five paintings will be displayed throughout the sportsplex: one will hang in the lobby, three smaller ones will be scattered throughout the building, and a fifth will be placed at a yet-to-be-determined arena.

The larger paintings, Fairhead explains, are inspired by her many trips to the Arctic. The smaller ones, she says, were painted while she spent a winter on Leonard Lake in Muskoka Lakes. “The snow and sun on the ice, every morning it was different,” she explains. “I think I did one every sunny morning.”

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Fairhead joked that since she gets a free membership because she’s in her 90s, she felt she had to pay back the sportsplex staff somehow. “Thank you very, very much,” she said. 

The donation was made possible thanks to the town’s Public Arts Advisory Committee, which was created in 2020. “Public art brings beauty to a community, sparks conversation, and enriches our cultural landscape,” says Barb McMurray, chair of the committee. “Through public art, we can learn about history, nature, and so much more.”

Bracebridge Mayor-elect Rick Maloney said “there’s more to come” from the committee. McMurray and the committee’s members were behind the sculpture in honour of Miles Hammond that was installed at the Black Bridge in October. “We want to celebrate our community through art installations,” says Maloney. “It really makes what Bracebridge is: the heart of Muskoka.”

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