Kristen Andrews and Dwayne Dueck have lived in various collective housing arrangements since moving to Winnipeg from Morden, Man. in 1988. The twosome says that since moving into their Exchange District housing co-op four years ago, they’ve found a new, special kind of solace.
“I’ve lived in and out of collective houses and co-op mansions and weird squats most of the time I’ve been in Winnipeg,” says Andrews, who runs Ragpickers Anti-Fashion Emporium. “But these last four years have been the first time I feel like I have a grown-up place.”
Andrews and Dueck have found the newfound personal space a boon to their professional lives as well. In addition to Ragpickers, Andrews works as a community activist, bass clarinetist in The Flaming Trolleys and a slew of other community gigs. Dueck works as a singer-songwriter and also plays with various blues and country acts in the city, including the Patrick Alexandre Trio and Big Dave McLean’s Blues Jam, and is instantly recognizable as the doorman at Times Change(d).
“Dwayne does most of his songwriting and rehearsals here,” Andrews says, “and I work partly out of my home. This building is a converted sewing factory, and we have lots of space. We’re really lucky to have affordable housing co-ops like this in Manitoba. It’s not a thing in other provinces.”
1) Owl sculptures KA: “These are whalebone structures that come from up north, where we’ve both done lots of work. These are from Nunavut. People find these whale bones and turn them into owls. I like the juxtaposition of putting them with the greenery, because these come from places where there are no trees.”
2) Instruments KA: “On the left is a bass dulcimer. There’s a bunch of little ukuleles around, as well as the thumb pianos and talking drum. I’m also a drum instructor. I do this thing called Sacred Beats at Knox United Church, where we teach drumming. So most of my drums live over there.”
3) Wall of Winnipeg art KA: “The money flying away is Jordan van Sewell. The little pink guitar Dwayne and I found in our first winter in the city. We were hanging out on a date and found this lying broken in one of the tunnels in The Exchange. This collection is sort of the Winnipeg musician’s love-hate relationship with the city.”
4) Gas can guitar DD: “My brother built that for me. He’s a mechanic and doesn’t know anything about guitars, but he built that thing, man! It’s pretty neat. It actually plays. I’ve used it onstage with Big Dave McLean a couple times. It actually sounds really good, though it’s really heavy, so it’s not always practical.”
5) Books KA: “The big shelf is primarily research stuff. I’ve got a lot of stuff on wild food harvesting. I’m also an assistant instructor at Mary Jane’s Cooking School, and food advocacy is very important to me. There’s also the fiction shelf and my little collection of antique books. I particularly love these old 1950s science fiction books with dual covers. I’ve had Kemlo and the Martian Ghosts since I was a kid.”
6) Propeller blade KA: “This is one half of the propeller that my grandfather flew in the Second World War. He and the other pilot he flew with each took half.”