The Community pARTners Gallery is a partnership between the Yorkton Public Library, the City of Yorkton and the Yorkton Arts Council that provides space in the library for art exhibitions.
The current exhibition at the Community pARTners Gallery is Poetree & Friends, on display until the end of June. This exhibition is a collaboration between the Yorkton Archives, City of Yorkton Community Development Parks and Recreation and the Yorkton Arts Council.
Poetree and Friends, a CTV production, began in the early 1990s. Producer Greg Popowich approached management with an idea for a children’s program involving a talking tree and a bird who lived in the tree.
When the idea was approved for production, Greg then approached Debbie Hayward and Joyce Bagley, continuity writers at CTV, to see if they would be interested in working on the project. They accepted the challenge, and production began.
Poetree was a large wooden structure, with room for three people to stand inside, one being the actor playing Poetree, (Jim Brock and later Judd Niven); Joyce Bagley, who operated the eyes for Poetree; and the other being the actor who played Birdie, (Debbie Hayward). The tree had an opening on one side for Debbie’s puppet arm.
On the exterior of the tree was a platform that was the treehouse in Poetree’s branches, and a ladder for Dan The Storyman, (Dan Calef), to climb into the tree.
The entire wooden tree shape was paper-machied by Debbie and Joyce, then painted to imitate bark. Silk foliage attached to two-by-four strips across the top of the tree completed the look.
Poetree’s face, approximately 24 inches around, was made by a local person out of flexible rubber, and his eyes were on hinges operated manually from inside the tree, so that he could move his eyes. His mouth was operated by hand.
Birdie was a puppet about 20 inches long, made of felt and feathers, designed and created by Debbie Hayward.
The premise of the show was built around Poetree, a wise old tree who could speak and create beautiful poems, and Birdie, a lively little bird who had a nest in Poetree’s branches. There was also a treehouse visited each week by Dan The Story Man who would take part in Birdie’s wild adventures and read a story to Poetree and Birdie. Poetree would conclude each episode with a poem that reflected the adventure of the day.
The show also had a children’s craft segment, organized by Kim Balog, and a brief exercise segment for the kids.
Many puppet friends lived in Poetree’s neighborhood and were friends of Poetree, Birdie and Dan. They included the Couch Potatoes; the Feathered Frenzies ; the Boggly Bananas; Mrs. Muffin; Ned, a kindly neighbor; and Dreyfus the Dragon who lived in a cave nearby. Puppets were made by Debbie Hayward.
While Birdie had many adventures with Poetree and Dan, the underlying theme of the show was friendship , understanding and kindness to others. Birdie’s adventures showed us that imagination and creativity had no bounds.
All scripts were written by Debbie Hayward, and all poetry for Poetree was written by Joyce Bagley.
All Couch Potato, Boggly Bananas, Feathered Frenzies, and Mrs. Muffin segments were written and performed by Joyce Bagley and Debbie Hayward. Dan Calef performed as himself -- Birdie and Poetree’s best friend. Producer was Greg Popowich.
Poetree and Friends was broadcast on CTV locally, and it was also carried on YTV and Nickelodeon.
The program won five CanPro gold awards for excellence in children’s programming.
Production of Poetree and Friends ended in 1997.
The new exhibition at the Community pARTners Gallery is Poetree & Friends on display until the end of June This exhibition is a collaboration between the Yorkton Archives, City of Yorkton Community Development Parks and Recreation and the Yorkton Arts Council.
Click on any of the images in the gallery below to see the larger version and toggle through all photos.
Note: The original poetree was dismantled and the one currently on display is a smaller homage replica made out of foam, cardboard tube and other materials.
Sandra MacColl was a visionary and had a quiet way of making her visions come to life. In 2006 one of her visions came to life in the creation of the Community pARTners Gallery, a small public gallery space in the Yorkton Public Library.
The space is the result of a partnership of the City of Yorkton, the Yorkton Public Library and the Yorkton Arts Council.
It is a wonderful creative space that welcomes all. In her vision SandraMacColl saw beyond her own life and continues in her support of the arts even after passing away. Her generosity will ensure the continuation of the programming and maintenance of the Community pARTners Gallery for years to come.