Oak Bay in stitches: Renowned artist’s work restored to original glory

Kevin Grant inspects the details in his late mother’s work, restored and hung in pride of place in the Monterey centre lobby. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)Kevin Grant inspects the details in his late mother’s work, restored and hung in pride of place in the Monterey centre lobby. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
A handful of Dorita Grant’s family members, daughter-in-law Debra Campbell, left, sons Ian Grant, and Kevin Grant and Kevin’s wife Melanie Grant (front) were on hand for the reveal of restoration on three significant pieces of her textile art that now hang at the Oak Bay recreation centre. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)A handful of Dorita Grant’s family members, daughter-in-law Debra Campbell, left, sons Ian Grant, and Kevin Grant and Kevin’s wife Melanie Grant (front) were on hand for the reveal of restoration on three significant pieces of her textile art that now hang at the Oak Bay recreation centre. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Five years and a week after her death, Dorita Grant’s artwork holds a new, revered place of honour at Monterey Recreation Centre.

The trio of restored large pieces fill a whole wall in the lobby, adding brightness and history to the space.

Born in Victoria on April 26, 1925, Grant was a longtime Oak Bay resident and Monterey centre member. She died on Nov. 17, 2017, and in the time between Dorita was many things, including a renowned artist and a mother.

While Gail Hughes didn’t have the opportunity to meet the artist, she noticed the pieces donated by Grant to her community hub, lovingly hung in places people would see them – scattered about the recreation centre.

“Dorita Grant’s gift of these wall hangings to the centre shows not only her talent and skill as an artist but also how much the Monterey centre and the community of Oak Bay meant to her,” Hughes said during the unveiling Nov. 21. “Her wall hangings are a visual form of storytelling. They are telling us, in the most charming and beautiful format, the story of Oak Bay.”

But the years in simple frames took a toll and details began to fade, and Hughes, president of the Monterey Recreation Activity Association that funded the work, asked her board what they thought of restoring three large pieces.

With estimates from Prestige Picture Framing, and the OK to proceed, she took the artworks in for museum-quality restoration in late 2019. They came back six months later, and like many things in early 2020, rehanging and an unveiling event went on the back burner.

Monday afternoon a handful of Dorita’s family members were on hand to see the restored work: sons Ian Grant and Kevin Grant, along with Kevin’s wife Melanie Grant, as well as son Mark Grant’s wife Debra Campbell.

“She’d be just beside herself,” Kevin said of the display.

Dorita was a proud charter member of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria and taught advanced crewel embroidery. Dorita taught textile arts in Greater Victoria for years, sharing her knowledge of needlework subjects. She was also involved in writing embroidery courses for the Embroiderers Association of Canada Correspondence School and was awarded an honorary life membership for her work with the association. Her work has appeared in civic buildings, art galleries and museums across Canada.

But the pieces hanging at Monterey have a personal feel, one Ian spots right away. The large work depicting Cattle Point features what appear to be the family dogs, a pair of Boston terriers, and parked along the road are each of her boys’ cars.

The other two pieces depict historic buildings in Oak Bay, many that no longer stand, and Oak Bay Village in the 1930s.

Find them on display at 1442 Monterey Ave.

christine.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca

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