History is a tissue of lies, exclusions and evasions; for every narrative that is documented and recorded there are many others that go unacknowledged.
The faces I’m drawing for my installation at the Burnaby Art Gallery represent the real and imagined former inhabitants of this building. “Fairacres,” as it was first known, was built as a retirement estate by Vancouver realtor Henry Ceperley and his wife Grace in 1910.
Prior to its conversion to the gallery in 1967, the mansion housed four wealthy families, including the Ceperleys (1910-1939), a community of Benedictine monks (1939-1954), a controversial religious cult (1954-1965) and a university fraternity (1965-1966).
As I research my project I’m aware that many stories associated with this building can only be imagined. Best represented are the accounts and images of the wealthy men who lived at Fairacres in the early 1900s. Few records of their wives and children survive and none at all concerning the servants who worked in these households.
The monks are fairly well-documented as a community, but not as individuals. Information about the questionable religious group, The Canadian Temple of the Universal Foundation of More Abundant Life, focuses on their charismatic leader, William Franklin Wolsey (“Archbishop John”). The fraternity boys, who spent only a few months in the house, are mostly undocumented, as well.
Whenever possible, I’m using actual photographic references of the former residents for my drawings. But most of the faces I use will be surrogates–anonymous faces that represent the wives, children, servants and students whose sojourns went unrecorded.