Love Recipes in the Mile End

Artist Invests in Labour of Love for the Community 140 Characters at a Time

Follow @AmourMileEnd for love recipes every 10 minutes on Valentine’s Day. Photo Noémie Letu
Follow @AmourMileEnd for love recipes every 10 minutes on Valentine’s Day. Photo Noémie Letu

Her neighbours have dubbed her the “Angel of the Mile End” and the “Livreuse du Bonheur.” Artist Patsy Van Roost’s latest project is showcasing her love of the community that has embraced her.

In her latest project, Love in the Mile End (L’Amour Fleurit Ici), Van Roost is asking residents to submit 140-character ‘recipes for love.’ Those who register receive a handcrafted sign on their property which identifies it to passers-by as a home where “love blossoms.” On each sign, Van Roost has fashioned a small pocket where, on February 14, she will slip in the recipe for love that household will have submitted to her.

As a child growing up in Belgium, Van Roost wanted to become a painter. Now, public space is her canvas. She made a name for herself in December when she cut Hans Christian Anderson’s short story “The Little Match Girl” into 25 parts, printed them on acetate and posted one every day on a different house on Waverly St. The project was a big hit. Residents whose houses had not been picked would stop her on the street to tell her how they felt left out.

She was testing participation on low-tech projects.

“Today everyone’s into projections and hi-tech stuff,” Van Roost said. “So I was wondering, are people still into very low-tech projects, like putting a piece of printed paper on the street? Will people participate if you ask them to?”

At least in the Mile End, the resounding answer is yes. 150 households signed up to share their recipe for cultivating love.

“It’s really building connections, and not just for me. People are going to go see their neighbours, and we don’t know our neighbours anymore,” Van Roost said. “A lot of my work is about that too, trying to get two people who see each other all the time, but maybe they’ve never talked, to actually talk.”

The project is truly a labour of love for Van Roost, who studied fine arts at Concordia University and event design at Université du Québec à Montréal. By the time she is done working on the project, it will have cost her close to $600 in materials. She’s also put in 12-to-15-hour days for the past three weeks to put the project together.

Until the Waverly St. project, Van Roost said she felt guilty not working to make a living through her artwork.

”It’s like, ‘Oh my God, I should be making money, I have to pay for my son’s school, why am I doing an art project again?’

Although she’ll be spending Valentine’s Day going door to door with the recipes for love, Van Roost figures she will already be starting her next project on February 15, where she will take parts of a short story called “L’homme de glaçe” and encase them in blocks of ice.

Collecting those recipes also reminded Van Roost about the love in her life.

“My son’s a teenager, I’m a single mum. I raised him all alone, and we were really close, and now that he’s 15, it’s not the same thing as before,” she said. “But getting those recipes is a real wake-up call. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, Patsy, you used to do that with your son. Get back to it!”

“Some of the recipes may seem corny, but if you actually read them and think about it, they’re easy, everyday things that we take for granted and forget to do.”

‘Love in the Mile End’ on properties across the Mile End for at least week / starting Feb. 14

@AmourMileEnd will tweet one recipe every 10 minutes on Valentine’s Day.