Salamanca… Sounds like something you say when you catch a big fish or stub your toe. It is of course a city in Spain. And it is, slightly less of course-y, a spice shop in Kensington Market. It is one of those shops that feels old world-y. You can transport yourself to any number of places on the map with a whiff of any number of bins full of saffron or cumin or pepper. It has been there for decades. The Market still has a few of these special spots left. Very few.
I remember walking through Kensington as a child and feeling such wonder about the old shops with fish stacked on ice in the window, or bins brimming with exotic spices or used clothing crammed in so densely a corpulent person might be too intimidated to enter. While there are things I like about the changes in Kensington, there is even more that makes me a bit sad about what is lost when rents go up and trendy foodie spots (god love ’em) come in and line the streets that used to harbour some fishy smelling, hard earned character.
Now that I’ve lived outside Toronto for over a decade, the changes are more obvious somehow upon every visit. I’ll be doing an ongoing, intermittent series of paintings of neighbourhoods that captured something in my imagination when I was young and impressionable. It is kinda cool in a melancholy kind of way to revisit and dwell upon places that aesthetically charged me over the years. I may only now realize how much this is true and passing through these places has a subtly transformative effect. We are gradually letting go of the old city and good or bad, right or wrong, the new will be all.