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COLUMN: New Somniatis video opens up a 'world of beauty'

Video is a fundraiser to support mental health in the community says Orillia's Tammy Dore, noting Somniatis 'lost two members to mental health' in 2018
Somniatis two colour model Rachel Blackwell credit Deb Halbot
Somniatis two colour model Rachel Blackwell. A new video, A World of Beauty, takes audience on a journey behind the scenes of this unique art initiative.

Remember back in the day, when live events were a thing? And Somniatis, the Wearable Art Show, conceived and produced by Ruth Germain, first wowed us here in O-Town?

After Ruth retired, Somniatis then continued under the more than capable direction of Tammy Dore, and blew us away with a beautiful wearable art show at St. Paul’s, in 2018.

Dozens of people were involved in each show, including artists and designers, models, hair and makeup artists, photographers, and musicians. It truly was a mash-up of all the incredible creativity that we know exists in Orillia and area.

Of course, 2020 brought the pandemic and live events came to a crashing standstill. This was amongst plans for another wonderful Somniatis show. Artistic director Tammy Dore didn’t want to just let it go, however. So, she came up with a plan that culminated with the creation of The Somniatis Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress documentary, A World of Beauty, which is now out and on YouTube

OrilliaMatters (OM): How did you come up with the idea of the video?

Tammy Dore (TD): This video started in 2018 with the idea to showcase it in a live show. It was to take the audience on a journey to show what goes into one design but also show the efforts of all involved. Hairstylists, makeup artists, photographers, and the models’ involvement as well. How one collaboration works and how important that all artists combined make one masterpiece.

How no one is better than the other, and when we are allowed to create together and work and respect one another on a volunteer basis and are given time to prepare, something so amazing happens.

OM: What drove you in this project?

TD: With the pandemic, I had to postpone and cancel any live shows. It is not safe, and I still feel now there is not a safe place in sight to do so. With this thought at hand, I felt lost. Looking at virtual events, and what other arts were doing I felt there was a way to keep Somniatis alive. I also know the toll the pandemic has taken on the art world. We are still not back to normal and not sure when the new normal will develop.

We as a community have such talented creatives who do so much to use their artistry to do good and give back. So, when putting this together I carried many artists with me and the struggles we all faced together and the challenges this pandemic created.

OM: The funds from the project are going to the Mental Health Department at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. How did you pick that recipient?

TD: In 2018, Somniatis lost two members to mental health, so this was my focus on funding going to help our community. In a (normal) world life is tough. I see this more now than ever with this pandemic, this is so understandable with the world as we knew it turning upside down and navigating in even more of a tougher world.

Everyone is struggling so, to still support mental health with donations and all the outreach numbers for support was very important to me and also the message to just be kind was so important as well.

I have no new date for a live show until I feel it is safe for everyone! I know that this group is still creating and dreaming…I look forward to the time when we can bring our dreams forward to our audience once again.

Somniatis “A World of Beauty” discusses mental health supports in our community and shows the journey of one Somniatis creation, from simple dress to a model with full hair and makeup, then showcased in a stunning music video with a dancer and music. The 23-minute video can be found here.

Donations to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to support mental health can be made here.

Other notable bits and bobs this week:

There is an Art and Mental Health Open House at The Meeting Place, 28 West St. N., Orillia, each Friday in October from 12 noon to 4 p.m. There will be art on display and a chance to make art or music as well. This is put together by Orillia District Arts Council, for Culture Days.

Yours Truly Jackson (Jackson Fournier) has released a new single about love and loss, a collaboration with Cxldaf, and you can listen to it here.

Orillia artist Bones Sucks (Dylan Court), Chief Lady Bird, and other Simcoe County artists are in a show of handpainted skateboards running until Oct. 10, at Spare Room, 12 Lakeshore Mews, Barrie, so go check it out.

Orillia Museum of Art and History has teamed up with Parklane Landscaping for eight sessions of eco-art for kiddos. Check it all out here.

This weekend, Hibernation Arts in the Peter St. Arts District has an exhibit opening of work by guest artist Natasha Genevieve, Saturday from 12 noon to 3 p.m. There is also an art hop in the district at that time, so go down and get hopping.

The Orillia Concert Association has announced its 2021-22 season, and the first two shows are virtual. You can enjoy Sinfonia Toronto on Oct. 23 from the comfort of your couch, and Peter Stoll, clarinet, similarly, on Nov. 28. To buy tickets, please call 705-327-0703 or visit the Orillia Concert Association website.

Mariposa Folk Fest is doing a series of satellite concerts at various venues around town, Oct. 23. Check it all out and get tickets here.

Don’t forget about national Truth and Reconciliation Day, Sept. 30. Take the time to acknowledge and learn about the wrongs that we have done our Indigenous brothers and sisters. There are many resources available to learn from. And wear your orange shirt!

That is more than my allotted room for now, so see you all next week.

If you have arts news, send to by Tuesday at noon, to be included.