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My Beating Heart

I started working with Hearts several years ago as a way to integrate something digital with something physical. I started to build hearts that I could make beat with lights. ... and then I hooked this to a sensor that read my heart beat and My Beating Heart  became the project title. 

I hadn't worked on it for a while and when Covid Hit and we all went into isolation at which point  I started playing around with the project again.  I had to make some blank hearts to fit around a poured resin shape I had cast a year earlier. So I made some Heart shaped blanks out of plywood.

Eventually I decided to paint on one of the blank hearts I had cut out and so I spent a really enjoyable afternoon doing this.  And I made another one the next day.

I ended up putting one in the window of my house (top image) and then I nailed one into a Hydro Pole at the end of my street .  I took a picture of it and threw  the image up on my Instagram account.

and a day or so later I received a message through instagram of an offer of for me to make another Heart as a commission in exchange for a donation in my name to a local charity of my choice.

So I made this.

This Heart is three pieces of plywood glued together and shaped, sanded and painted.

The outer two layers are from plywood I garbage picked from a renovation happening a couple of doors down from me. 

I was told that the piece would hang in a window and then later on a wall in an office. It was meant to thank and commemorate the Covid19 Pandemic in exchange for a donation to a local charity of my choice.

I chose the Riverdale Basket Brigade - which is a local chapter that a friend of mine is on the organizing committee of and is an organization to which I have volunteered the last two years at Christmas time to take photographs of.

Normally, they collect donations and make Holiday food baskets for members of our community which they deliver directly. This is something I have volunteered at and taken photographs at the last couple of years and now they have recently mobilized to help during the Pandemic.

Riverdale Basket Brigade

Given these unprecedented times, however, we are reaching out again to ask for your support. The impact of COVID-19 is far reaching.

Our committee’s goal is to act swiftly to support those most adversely affected by the Pandemic in our East End Community.

Funds raised will be used to deliver healthy meals to those most in need via our network of local Community Services as well as provide restaurant gift cards to taxed and exhausted front line workers at Michael Garron Hospital.

We will do this by partnering with our local East End restaurants who are also struggling to survive right now.

Let’s work together to support our community.

You can DONATE here

I was able to meet the Prime Minister of Canada yesterday - I had a meeting with him. He fit me into his time! It's been a dream of mine for many years now, this meeting and eventually, the stars aligned, and I received an email last week from the office of my MP - Julie Dabrusin (link to website),  that it was going to happen  -  and a not even a week later my wife and I drove off to Ottawa, mostly expecting that the entire thing would be canceled because of something way more important than me.

I had run into Julie and an event just before Christmas -  that we both volunteer at, which a friend of mine helped establish - called Riverdale Basket Brigade Canada (link to FB page & link to donate) which is a grassroots community charity based in the Riverdale area of Toronto - they are committed to feeding between 50 and 100 families in need in Toronto at Christmas time.

Anyway, I take pictures for the event and at the end of putting together the Baskets - before they go out to be delivered to the families, I was able to speak with Julie and told her what I was trying to do and asked for her help...

A few years back now - 2017 - I was asked to film a video for Gord Downie for the Juno's.

 I asked through channels if it would be ok to bring some copies of "The Hug"  image for Gord to sign and so I printed out some copies of the image I had taken of Gord and Justin Trudeau - Prime Minister of Canada - hugging before what turned out to be The Tragically Hip's final concert on August 20, 2016 and brought them over.

After the filming was complete, which was at Gord's house, I brought out the images - 7 in all - and Gord signed six of them. I told him who each was for - The Prime Minister, The Canadian Archives (if they will accept it), The Band, my self, some members of his team and the last one was for him - which I would give back - once I had gotten the Prime Minister to sign them. I didn't exactly know how or when that I could make it happen, I just knew that it would. Time, patience, luck and determination. Also,I wanted to have it done right. Properly. Official like.

I told Julie this story. That I had these images sitting, sealed in a box for several years now, that I had this idea years ago, that I had an image specifically for the Prime Minister signed by Gord, heck, I even saved the pen that Gord used -  and then I asked if there would there be any way, any hope, to get a meeting.... and she looked at me and said Yes.  She was going to make it happen for me. Then we both went on our way.

Just to be clear - I did spend years working for my local riding association. I was an executive - Communications Director for a time even - and I worked on a few elections. I donate to the Liberals and I vote Liberal. But that is not what this is about. I don't have anything to hide in how this all happened - those that know me know this. Moving on...

Anyway - I had seeded this request with barely a hope - but definitely a dream and then last week I got the email from Julie's office, my MP -  with a proposed date and a time that Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, was able to meet with me!!

Many might not know, or remember, or care, that Canada's House of Commons is undergoing a decade long renovation, and as a result, they have had to build a temporary House of Commons for our Parliament to sit in. This is in the West block - which is where my wife and I went on Wednesday - to first go to Question Period - something I had never done in Ottawa - and then to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada!

My meeting - that's what I've been calling it - I can only wonder what it is marked as in the PM's calendar - was slotted right after Question Period.

Tickets to Question Period are free by the way - anybody can go - it's really very interesting to experience and I highly recommend it - you can contact your local MP's office and they can help you - or you can go and line up - all tickets are on a first come first serve basis. You go early and line up, then you go through a very thorough security check - you can't bring anything at all into the House of Commons with you - so after security - you have a mandatory coat/item/phone check.

We were instructed to leave early so we would be ready for when the Prime Minister was finished with Question Period - which is an approximate time - so the idea is to be there when he walks in and is ready - obviously. There was another - full security procedure that Megan - my wife and I - had to go through - before getting to meet with the PM. My package of photographs was opened - for example. X-ray machines, Body scanners etc. Then an ID check. We had been sent an escort from Julie's office - Holden was his name and he was awesome. Everybody was - from the Security Police on Parliament Hill - to the PMO's aide and my MP's office. Holden - not after The Catcher in the Rye - Megan asked (It's one of, if not, her favourite books) expressed to me how cool this was - what was being done - and later we found out that Holden had worn a suit for the occasion of taking us to the Prime MInister's Office - which Megan and I thought was pretty adorable.

It's kind of fun - getting to tell security that you are there to have a meeting with the Prime Minister. Things are checked and double checked. They call the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) to verify - all this takes time - and happens repeatedly.

As it turns out, the PMO has an office for meetings in the West Block to save time - his main office is in a different building which is a bit of a distance - so my meeting was in this secondary office - I guess you could say -  and it was Holden's job to navigate all the security checkpoints etc. and get us there - you can't walk in the building without an escort for security reasons. So Holden got us there and I think he had fun - it was his first time going to the PMO's office too - and it was fun to see him at the check points - we're going to meet with the Prime Minister, do you know where this room number is? He'd ask. Yes, they have an appointment - and he would provide a room number again and out names - and then somebody would verify everything again, and he would show ID - and of course Megan and I had to wear special passes by now which we'd gotten at the second security checkpoint - and then the next door wood open and we'd be pointed in the right  direction.

Finally, we get to a door. There is Security outside. Must be the place. And they let us in... after checking. Of course.

Behind the door is a pretty wide hallway with a number of chairs. There are a lot of doors leading off of either side of the hallway. We get greeted by somebody from the PMO's office - who is also excited for me and the PM I think. We wait for a time as Question Period goes late. The hallway starts to fill up with government employee's, aides, staffer's - not really sure - some of them have bags with locks - they disappear into rooms eventually or mill about, talking to one another. Important things are going on. You can image me.

I have my good jeans on - the dark ones that are sort of stretchy - Megan hide's them so I won't wreck them - she'd also pulled out a clean white collared shirt for me - I'd purchased it at Winner's a while back- wore it once or twice, loved it - then totally forgot about it because Megan disappeared it - for just such an occasion. I have my wedding tie on too - it's my good luck tie and the tie I wear most often. The tie that my dad bought for me to get married in twenty years ago - I have a grey cashmere v-neck sweater on - it has a hole on the sleeve and Megan had said I couldn't take off my Jean Jacket  - which I am also wearing - because of it. Not my new one, but my old one, the one that Izzy Camilleri was so kind in helping me create into my wardrobe for the performance I did last year - Through My Lens - it's got a Canadian Flag on it and I proudly wore my The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Pin and a Moosehide Campaign Pin - I looked maybe, a bit out of place in that hallway waiting - I loved it. I didn't feel out of place. Just a little nervous.  Also, if you know the jacket I am talking about - YES. I did. I had to... so obviously - but that hole in my sweater....

The Finance Minister - Bill Morneau walks in and starts talking to some of the people milling about -  and then, The Prime Minister of Canada walks in with a small entourage, his security detail, my MP - Julie Dabrusin is with him. She comes over to greet us, smiles and hugs, we're all excited. The PM peels off and goes into his office. Security guarding the door.

A few minutes later, we get called in. We walk through two rooms and enter his office. Big smile. We'd spent a day together years ago - before he was Prime Minister - on the Hustings - a word Gord taught me. Gord had used the word in an email he had written me one time - during an election I was working on - Good Luck on the Hustings - he had wrote - I had to look up its meaning.

David Bastedo - Meets the PM

David! - the Prime Minister, who is alone when we walk into his office - enthusiastically greets me and then my wife by name - he walks over - arms outstretched and gives me an incredible hug. I am humbled really. By his generosity of time and warmth. I am pleased that I had asked if I could bring Megan to share this with me. She knew Gord and the Downies and the guys in the Hip a lot longer than me.

I get an incredible hug from the Prime Minister of Canada

One of the PM's photographer's - Alex Tetreault (instagram) - has slipped into the room silently. It's just the five of us and I really cannot believe this moment is happening. (I received these images from the PMO's office and I put the Watermark on - they do great work and I really appreciate the documentation of it!)

I had brought two packages with me. One containing the prints of the image of the hug, and one containing some images that I had selected from my archives  to give to the Prime Minister.

12Gord Downie And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

I knew time was short. The first image that I handed the Prime Minister, was the image that Gord had written to him. It read:

      1. Dearest Sir. I love you!
        1. x Gord

Dear Sir, I love you - Gord Downie

The Prime Minister took some time taking in the photo and the memory.

Dearest Sir, I Love you - Gord

We silently reflected for a few moments. I think we were both thinking the same thing - about The Tragically Hip and what they meant to us and to Canadians; about Gord Downie and the words that he had directed to the Prime Minister that night in August, in  Kingston.

The Prime Minister of Canada - Justin Trudea attending The Tragically Hip's Final Concert

I told the Prime Minister that he was incredibly generous for making time for this and then I kind of had to decide if I was going to do it -  I felt I was channeling Gord on this journey - which is why I had to wear my jean jacket; a Hip tune had come on the radio just as we had been driving by Kingston to get to Ottawa - like Magic - you have to love K-Rock 105.7 - and I thought that it might be appreciated and this was NEVER, ever going to happen to me again - so I reversed my jacket! Just for a picture.

Me in my Gord Jacket - with the Prime Minister of Canada - Justin Trudeau

Before the PM started signing the "Hug" images, I opened the smaller package.

It contained six images that I had pulled from my archives as a gift, a small token of appreciation. I wanted, I felt that I had an opportunity to reiterate Gord's message in the one way that I could - which is through the imagery I had captured of him.

I took out each of the images and explained to the Prime Minister and my MP what they were from.

I get to gift the Prime Minister of Canada with some Images

An image of Gord Downie and Pearl Wenjack Holding hands after The Secret Path show in Ottawa.
Gord Downie and Pearl Wenjack

An image of Gord holding an Eagle Feather and Tobacco in Ceremony, before The Secret Path Show in Ottawa.
Gord Downie - Eagle Feather - The Secret Path - Ottawa

Gord's audio Pack - The Secret Path Rehearsals.
Audio PAck - Gord Downie - The Secret Path Rehearsals

An image of Gord, smiling on stage - thanking the audience in Toronto.
Thank You - Gord Downie

Gord's empty shoes.
Gord Downie - Empty Shoes

I think he said, "Wow."

Then JT - that's what we call him at home - signed the remaining images for me.
Justin Trudea - The Prime Minister of Canada - sign images for me
And I am very happy. I feel like I have represented well today and accomplished something important to me.

The Prime MInister signs images for me

We pose for a group photo.

Group Photo - My wife, the Prime Ministr of Canada - Justin Trudea, and my MP, Julie Dabrusin, Toronto-Danforth

That's my wife, the PM, me and Julie Dabrusin, Liberal MP for Toronto-Danforth. She made this happen for me and I am grateful!! Afterwards, she was kind enough to give us a short tour of the Members Area just outside the doors of the House of Commons, which enabled us to see the portraits of past Prime Ministers. And then we left. We drove to Kingston, had a great visit with some friends and now I am home.

I really wanted to share this story - really, I wanted to share it with Hip fans in particular. I feel like they would appreciate it.  I wanted to let them know also, that they are in my heart, that like so many, I think of Gord often, and the band and the music and the friendships.

And that I was able to do this thing and I was thinking of you.

Bergeron Clifford and Cumberland Wealth Management
Present : David Bastedo’s Through My Lens: A Tale of Love, Hope and Admiration.


Please join us on December 13th at The Isabel Bader Centre for an art show of David’s 50 favourite images from his 12 years being The Tragically Hip’s official photographer . Then move into the theatre for an evening of tribute and reflection lead by David, with performances by Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair,Sarah Harmer, Chris Koster and Jim Bryson. Warning: Surprise musical guests may occur.
Tickets are $75 and go on sale on Tuesday, October 9th through the

All proceeds go towards Hospice Kingston’s The Time is Now Campaign.
Please join us for this unique evening celebrating art, music and friendship.

I've been accepted as a Keynote speaker at the upcoming COCA conference in Fredericton on June 15th where I will be sharing my evolving talk.

An Abridged Exploration of Love & Admiration.
Part 1. Gord.

The beginning of the end.

I’ve been on a journey with The Tragically Hip and with Gord for over a dozen years now. It has been an adventure filled with people and music and culture and friendship and family and love and admiration.

I’ve spent the better part of the year revisiting that journey, combing through my archives; trying to extract from them, some magical answer to what it all means – to me, to friends, to fans and to a country.

I’ve cried and I’ve laughed and there have been many smiles; as I remember the places and events surrounding each frame – a vignette of my life – a song in my head – each encapsulating a special moment shared with friends.

These images of Gord – are only part of my love story, a part of a poem and a sliver of my heart – to all of the experiences, and people and times that were shared and a toast to the times that are still to be celebrated; to the learning and growing and the experiences that changed me; all of us. To a man, and a band, and a country.

David Bastedo

The Exhibition titled: An Abridged Exploration of Love & Admiration. Part 1. Gord. will be showing for the months of May & June at LeslieJones | Toronto.

A Curated selection of images.
Limited Edition Studio Prints Available for Purchase.

For more information.

A while back, I mentioned that I will be giving a talk in the New Year. . . so it's the New Year and I have been diligently working on a presentation. Now there is a date.

I will be a Speaker in Talk Boutique's next Salon Series on February 28th.

I'm really happy to be speaking at this event - created by two old friends - as I have been in attendance for a year and it has always been a great night and I always meet interesting people.

I've strung together some images and a few personal stories that go together.

I hope to see you there on the 28th!

Tickets are limited, free and available here

The last two years have been bitter and sweet, confusing, inspiring, depressing, joyful, happy and sad mixed into a bit of a dream and if there is one image that represents 2017 for me, it is this image of Gord from August of 2016 – the irony that an image from 2016 represents 2017 to me is not lost on me. ..

I've thought a great deal about this image. It represents LOVE. It represents facing your challenges and your fears, having a dream, taking risks, family, friendship, sacrifice, passion and above all strength. It represents the past and the future.
With love in my heart and a tear in my eye for the last two years, I draw strength from it and look ahead to what the future holds and remember all that was good in the past.
Change, Risk, Transformation, Dreams, Passion, Creativity, Relationships, Activity, Healthy and Inspired – these are the themes that will drive me forward into the New Year and beyond.
Change - in job (i’m on my own again after a beautiful 7 years with Gravity), priorities, expectations, horizons and lifestyle.
Risk – taking more chances, overcoming fears, pushing my limits, skills, knowledge, and creativity. Challenge myself!
Transformation – of ideas, health, work and energy.
Dreams – Have them! Understand them and chase them. Do it for you! Its ok. Make, create & accomplish.
Passion – Follow, create & discover
Creativity – Do more. Fear less. Take Risks. Fail.
Relationships – Strengthen, reinforce, create & broaden. ENJOY them all.
Activity – Do and Be. Explore and discover. Challenge. Give Time. Give Money.
Healthy – Food. Lifestyle. Exercise. Outlook. Energy.
Inspired – Find and discover. Do, make & create. Explore and expand. Refine and think. Chase. Fail and Be.