Whose House? Lauren’s House!

Lauren and Snacks the cat in their West Broadway home.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Lauren Swan admits she’s “a sucker for sentimental things.”

The executive director and co-founder of Winnipeg’s Big Fun Festival found a space that matched her in West Broadway two years ago.

“I love this strip. I don’t think I’ll ever leave.”

Swan started Big Fun with Stefan Braun, the festival’s artistic director, and Winnipeg promoter David Schellenberg among a team of others in 2011.

“Stefan’s idea was, ‘I wanna throw a festival where all my favourite bands can play.’ And then we just kinda kept doing it and kept doing it, and now it’s been eight years, which wasn’t the plan in the beginning, but it just kinda kept going,” Swan says.

Born in Winnipeg, she spent her adolescence in Vancouver but moved back in her teens. Though the rest of her family is still on the West Coast, Swan says, “I keep coming back because it feels like home.   

“I think that people are really excited here to see each other thrive and succeed.”

She believes Winnipeg offers those with ideas confidence “to push their boundaries, hone their skills and really kinda go for it.”

“With Big Fun, people supported us right out of the gate. That’s why it’s survived this long and (has) gotten where it is.”

Reassembled Stoneware

“That’s just a plate that was broken, but it was my grandma’s, and I keep all these weird, sentimental things.

Automated Antique

“This is a music box and cigarette case. It used to be my grandma’s. She didn’t even keep cigarettes in it. She just had it, and I just grew up playing with it. I quit smoking, so I don’t even use it. I should just put joints in there.”

Intimate Exhibit

“My mom always had a bunch of pictures all over her fridge. I feel like it’s a nice window into someone’s soul. It’s my favourite thing to look at at house parties and stuff.”

Snacks the Cat

“She didn’t have a name. I can’t even remember what the name they gave her at the shelter was. I was like, ‘Well, what do you name animals after?’ I just thought, ‘What is one of my favourite things? Treats? Food?’”

Winnipeg 1919

“That is done by this artist named Raymond Biesinger. He’s originally from Winnipeg. He lives in Montreal now. He’s in this band called the Famines, and I helped him out getting a show here a couple of years ago, and (in) gratitude, he sent me that print. It’s historical. On the 15th of May in 1919, this is what Winnipeg looked like.”

Flora family

“Plants? I gotta lotta plants. My dad is a big gardener, so we always had a million houseplants. When we were living in Vancouver, he had 47 bonsai trees at one point. I’ve kind of fallen in suit with that. I keep collecting them, because they make me happy.”

Seven Swans A’Spinning

“I used to be in a record collective called Vinyl Salon, and then I had a monthly record night at the Good Will called Small Talk Tuesday with Renée Girard – we would play records casually. I’ve just kinda been collecting over the years. That’s only part of them.”

Published in Volume 73, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 7, 2019)

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