A sculpture honouring the nursing profession entitled Our Breath Beyond was inaugurated on October 10, at the corner of Jeanne-Mance Street and Des Pins Avenue. It celebrates the role nursing has played in healthcare, from the founding of Hôtel Dieu in 1644 by Jeanne Mance, until today. The project, conceived in 2017 around the time of the 375th anniversary of the city of Montréal, was spearheaded by four nurses who graduated from the St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1968. Watch the video of the inauguration here.
This piece of conceptual art consists of fifteen hands that symbolize the transmission of knowledge, legacy, care and the passage of time. The hands are those of 12 practising and retired nurses, including those of the four nurses behind the project, namely Maureen Fitzgerald, Catherine McIninch Murphy, Brenda Noonan Brown and Judith Tisseur Norton. The hands are paired with billowing fabric that represents the communities served by the nurses, inspired by the capes that were once part of the nurses’ uniforms.
The work of art was created by artists Véronique La Perrière M. and Fiona Annis, with the help of Jennifer Wade for the wax castings, following a selection process headed by Bureau d’art publique de Montréal. It was cast in bronze at the Fonderie d’art d’Inverness located in the heart of Québec.
Among the hundred or so people who attended the inauguration were Alex Norris, city councillor for the Plateau Mont-Royal borough, Ms. Phyllis Lambert, architect and founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Héritage Montréal, as well as Cynda Heward and Cindy Aikman, from the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, which provided technical and logistical support for the project. For more information, read the article published in The Montréal Gazette on October 12.