Artist Stephanie Goulet painting the iconic storefront

CELEBRATING THE JEWEL OF DOWNTOWN MONTRÉAL

Join artist Stéphanie Goulet on her journey as she paints the iconic Maison Birks storefront.

Artist Stephanie Goulet poses in front of the iconic Montreal storefront

DISCOVER HER PROCESS

Montréal-based visual artist Stéphanie Goulet is passionate about urban architecture, wandering the streets of the city in search of her next subject. In her piece entitled BIRKS Montreal #1, she immortalizes the historic Maison Birks storefront, a veritable jewel in the heart of downtown Montréal. “Art is a big thing for me—it’s always been—and since very young, I’ve tried to follow a specific track,” says Goulet. After starting painting at age 12, Goulet found her unique voice at the age of 38 after painting of a photograph she had taken of a historic building. Having fallen in love with old buildings and structures while obtaining her master’s degree in Toulouse, France, Goulet now draws her inspiration from Montréal’s most memorable architectural scenes. “Maison Birks is a landmark, an iconic building, which also represents an iconic story,” she says.

Black and White photo of the downtown storefront

AN ARCHITECTURAL GEM

Inaugurated on Phillips Square in 1894, the current building is a testament to the brand’s longevity, as well as its intricate, fine craftsmanship. Extended and restored in 1907, the 18,000-square-foot store was the largest commercial space in the world on a single floor at the time. Over a century and another restoration later, the architecturally ornate storefront still stands proudly just off Montréal’s beloved Sainte-Catherine shopping street for all to admire.

The artist sketches the storefront

CAPTURING A PIECE OF HISTORY

When she decided to paint the Maison Birks building, Goulet followed her usual process, first photographing it from the street. “The light that morning was just so perfect,” the artist recalls. The challenge: finding the exact angle that would capture “everything I have in my mind.” Going through the photographs on her computer, Goulet selected the one that made her “feel what I saw on that day, that morning”, and sketched the picture on a canvas. Sometimes stretching over several days, this part helps ensure her sketch includes as many details as desired. Then, it was time to paint meticulously over her sketch, one piece at a time. The artist added copper and 24-karat gold to the canvas, enabling the materials depicted to truly come alive. Through this process, “I can create my own piece of jewellery on the building,” says Goulet. From the striking blue door to the classic clock, the final piece is brimming with astonishing attention to detail. “The details also tell the story of what happened many years ago,” says the painter. For her, preserving them is a way of contributing to the story as it continues to unfold.