Photo project sheds light on gift of affordable housing

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For Kevin Grummett, photography was a way to deal with the pandemic, isolation and depression in 2021.

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For Kevin Grummett, photography was a way to deal with the pandemic, isolation and depression in 2021.

“COVID was very hard for me,” he says. “Photography gave me something to focus on, an escape.”

He spent the year taking pictures of sunsets out his 12th-floor apartment at West Broadway Commons, a joint venture between All Saints Anglican Church and University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation 2.0.

Kevin Grummett photo

Photography helped Kevin Grummett deal with depression during the dark days of the pandemic.

Located on the grounds of the church at the corner of Broadway and Memorial Boulevard, kitty-corner to the Legislative building, it offers a mix of market and affordable housing units — such as the one Grummett lives in.

Now the 56-year-old wants to share his photos with others through an exhibition titled A Room with a View, on Saturday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at All Saints Church, 521 Broadway.

“The photos are all sunsets that I took last year,” he said of the 14 large and mounted photos in the exhibition. “I took them all from the same window.”

Grummett, who describes himself as “an enthusiastic amateur” when it comes to photography, lives on disability income assistance owing to depression.

“I spent seven months in a psychiatric ward seven years ago,” he says, adding, “I came out in pretty rough shape.”

Two things that helped him recover were Artbeat, a community-based program that provides social supports and studio space for individuals living with mental illness, and his church, Saint Benedict’s Table, an Anglican congregation that meets Sunday evenings at All Saints.

“They both helped me out of a pretty dark time,” he said.

At Saint Benedict’s, he benefited from two artist residencies — financial support from the church so he could work on his photography.

Kevin Grummett photo

Kevin Grummett spent 2021 taking pictures of sunsets from the window of his 12th-floor apartment at West Broadway Commons.

“Saint Ben’s was fantastic,” Grummett said, noting he was not a churchgoer before he started attending in 2015.

He was attracted to the church by its welcoming attitude.

“That resonated with me,” he said, adding he was baptized and joined the church. “I found community there.”

For Jamie Howison, the priest at Saint Benedict’s, Grummett has become an important part of the church.

“We really enjoy having him here,” he says, adding the exhibition “is a way for us to celebrate with him, to raise a glass and toast the good work of an artist.”

In addition to showcasing his photography, Grummett wants to use the exhibition to deal with the stigma of affordable housing.

“I want to dispel any shame some might attach to it,” he says of the apartment he moved into early last year. “I want to shine a light on it — we need more of it. It’s a positive thing. It doesn’t have to be looked down on.”

His apartment “means the world to me,” he says. “It has improved the quality of my life. It helped me turn my life around.”

Kevin Grummett photo

Grummett hopes his sunset photos inspire viewers to look at the world more carefully.

It also gave him the sunset views that led to the exhibition.

“I watched the sun as it travelled, setting at different points during the seasons,” he says. His goal is “to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover faith and beauty in unusual places and times.”

The exhibition is sponsored by Saint Benedict’s Table and Artbeat. In addition to the Sept. 17 exhibition, Grummett’s photos will be on display Oct. 7 at First Fridays in the Exchange. More information is available by calling 204-781-8450 or info@stbenedictstable.ca

faith@freepress.mb.ca

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John Longhurst

John Longhurst
Faith reporter

John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.

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