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A friendly mermaid and shark greet visitors to the latest interactive environment created by residents, volunteers, and instructors.

Octopus' Garden

Particularly popular – and effective – is the latest interactive environment created by residents, instructors and volunteers in the art Gallery on the second floor. This immersive multi-media art installation, entitled Octopus’ Garden, evokes the seashore and the ocean depths. As visitors walk through the Gallery, they experience the sights, sounds and textures of ever-deeper ocean waters. Along with images, sculptures and mobiles depicting fish, sea creatures, underwater plants and more, the exhibit features an original soundscape and incorporates existing features – such as frosted-glass doors – to create an immersive sensory experience.

“Octopus’Garden is the result of a wonderful group effort,” says Breanne Fedak, Creative Arts Instructor. “Residents, instructors and volunteers all contributed ideas, and we used every medium and material at our disposal – from  clay, wood and cloth to papiermaché, paint and audio.”  The Met Gallery, long one of Perley Rideau’s most popular spaces, is drawing more visitors than ever during the pandemic. Octopus’Garden is the fifth immersive exhibit to be mounted there.

“Projects like this one stimulate the senses and fire the imagination,” says Carolyn Vollicks. “Many studies, including research conducted here at Perley Rideau, demonstrate that installations like Octopus’ Garden have positive impacts on health and wellbeing. It’s also important for staff, particularly during such a stressful time. For them, it serves as a refuge of sorts and a reminder of what this place is all about.”    

By Peter McKinnon