Erika DeFreitas explores the historic Bradley House (1830) in order to disrupt and challenge the authenticity of Canadian heritage narratives and staged displays of period domestic interiors. The Bradley family, who were early Loyalist settlers originally built the saltbox-style yellow farmhouse on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Ontario, which was situated within the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and previously to the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wyandot and Huron people In 1967, the house was moved some three kilometres inland to its current location. DeFreitas recalls the house’s original location with an installation of artifacts, photographs, and audio that visually and conceptually brings the water and the house back together, "by conjuring the memory of the occupants and the their relationship with this watery landscape", inviting the viewer to reimagine this history both real and surmised. DeFreitas uses period textiles to link to the family’s past of owning indigo and tobacco plantations in Savannah, Georgia, introducing issues of colonialism and linking the notion of water as an enabler of colonization.
Like a conjuring (bringing water back to Bradley) invites viewers to gain a deeper understanding of how heritage is staged, and the desire to locate authenticity in its prescribed narratives. Ultimately, the work seeks to dialogue with unspoken aspects of history within the constructs of romantic portrayals dominating the heritage sector, raising questions about who has the power in crafting and telling these stories