'Unearthed' series aims to spark conversations around Belle Park

August 26, 2023

The Belle Park Project, a team of researchers who do work surrounding Belle Park, are introducing a series of events including artistic projects and conversations surrounding the site in the next week.

The series, entitled “Unearthed,” aims to foster discussions around complicated natural and political histories of the park.

Belle Park was built fifty years ago on a landfill that had previously been a wetland for thousands of years. The city has since wrestled with the direction they want to take the space, with the park still having an uncertain future.

Six artists will be presenting their work, seeking to reveal and imagine some of the stories of Belle Park and urging audiences to connect the history of the park with current social and environmental issues.

Dr. Laura Murray, professor in English and co-director of the Cultural Studies program at Queen's University and co-lead on the Belle Park project, spoke about the series in an interview with CFRC's Arts Coordinator, Lauren Tucker.

“We know that people will talk with each other. We’ll make them think about this space. And the city did have these plans to, you know, quite control the park in future," Murray said. "Yes. And right now, I think they haven't got the budget to go that way. And maybe it'll cause people to have some discussions about. different kinds of parks, you know, that serve different kinds of people and plants and purposes and what maybe have second thoughts about what the future of this one might be.”

This project comes at an interesting time for the park, with the site being heavily discussed in the context of the city’s request for a court order to evict residents of an encampment at Belle Park. The City of Kingston and encampment residents are currently waiting for their return to court in the fall, with proceedings beginning earlier this summer.

“...There's all this current complexity and historical complexity, and it's also both an ugly place and a beautiful place,” says Murray.

“Unearthed” will unravel between Aug. 26-30, with events split between the park itself and the Art and Media Lab in the Isabel Bader Centre.

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC News, for the Local Journalism Initiative