With Words as Their Actions
In August 2015, PLANT was awarded the commission to design a permanent public artwork for Lyon station in the City of Ottawa’s new Confederation Line LRT. Located on the concourse level at Lyon Station, With Words as Their Actions | Par la Force des Mots celebrates women as keepers of history – and in particular, the 32 women who, in 1898, founded the Ottawa chapter of the Women’s Canadian Historical Society (now the Historical Society of Ottawa). In 1954, Anne Dewar, a member of the society, presented “The Last Days of Bytown,” a lively documentation of life in the community a century earlier, when it was on the verge of changing its name from Bytown to Ottawa and becoming Canada’s capital. With Words as Their Actions features Dewar’s 5,000-word text laser-cut into a 75’-long curving stainless steel curtain. Lines of text cut through on one side in English interweave with the French translation cut through on the other side, recalling the intricacy of hand embroidery and other fabric arts traditionally considered ‘women’s work’. Instead of reading this lacy curtain of words all at once, transit riders can absorb a bit of it each time they pass through the station; the turned-out letters that add texture to the artwork also act as bookmarks, making it easy to ‘pick up where you left off’. Silhouettes representing the society’s founders gathered in conversation preside over the curtain, passing their knowledge from one another, and to the viewer.
With Words as Their Actions | Par la Force des Mots is part of the permanent collection of the City of Ottawa Art Collection. Two exhibitions also document the making of the artwork: ”Transformations” at Rideau Station and the City Hall Art Gallery/Karsh-Masson Gallery to the end of January 2020.