Toby Cote

  2022 Community Arts and Artisanship Certificate Graduate

Not Fade Away

In the space between those who came before me and those who will come after, I am driven to make a connection with familial ancestors I have not met and can only imagine. To understand where I belong in the world, I address how history shapes our sense of self and identity to connect with people I have never met. 

My drawings and paintings are expressions of how these ephemera make an impact on me, transcending time and expressing an emotion rooted in the narrative of personal memories—drawing from what has been disclosed by those who have since passed, remembered by markers in the cemetery, the remains of businesses, schools and homes which once stood proudly. 

Future generations experience the images of a ghost town for the first time, layering family and place through time, connecting people through a composite of old family photographs and letters, some as far back as the 1800s. They are from the small town of Forget, Saskatchewan, a French community that once had over 300 residents and now has approximately 40. Many of the buildings still sit untouched as they were when abandoned—tiny ruins of what used to be. 

‘Not Fade Away’ addresses this relationship through time. The families that thread through my past exist between the buildings of yesterday and today's landscapes. Some works are torn symbolically, representing the ‘now’ and ‘then’. Those who came as pioneers to this town left behind what they had built, binding new generations to this legacy. A narrative where those questions remain in history will go unanswered except for the clues left in posterity. To this end, a work created to remember the past existing only in memory and within the few artifacts of those who knew. We remember them, and they shall ‘Not Fade Away.’ 

The audio attached to this show ‘Not Fade Away’ is my Father’s voice recalling different events in his life reflected in the show centering around his hometown of Forget, Saskatchewan.  The song playing in between these short descriptions is called ‘Painted Glass’, written and performed by Gavin Clark, and it more than aptly describes a hometown vibe citing ’there’s only a few of us left', something my Father used to say when speaking about his family. 

Augey’s Garage
2021 Graphite and Watercolour 12 1/2 x 20 1/4 inches


Homecoming Silenced
2021 Ink and Watercolour 12 1/2 x 25 3/8 inches


Portrait of A Farm Boy
2022 Watercolour 20 5/8 x 13 1/4 inches


Farm to Potash
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 13 1/4 x 20 5/8 inches


Trade and Abandonment
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 13 5/8 x 20 7/8 inches


Forgotten Reunion
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 13 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches


Les Soeurs Joyeuses
2021 Graphite and Charcoal 12 x 19 7/8 inches


Radio Flyer Partners
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 21 x 13 1/2 inches


Double-Gabled Home
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 13 5/8 x 20 7/8 inches


Village Streetscape
2022 Graphite and Watercolour 13 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches