The beach may not be the first place you’d think to go during a dreary and brisk Toronto January, but thanks to some new public art, the city’s waterfront is about to get a whole lot more alluring.
As part of the return of the annual Winter Stations exhibition, a number of large-scale interactive art installations are set to take over Woodbine Beach to give residents some much-needed beauty and enjoyment during this frigid, miserable lockdown.
The five winning designs, which were selected from more than 400 international submissions by a jury that included Mayor John Tory, will be debuting in the historic Distillery District before being transported to the sandy/snowy beach for all to enjoy for free.
This year’s theme is, fittingly, “refuge,” with participants asked to “reflect on the ongoing pandemic and consider what refuge means to each of us.”
The designs include colours and shapes that pop against the monotonous winter landscape and draw viewers in for a deeper experience, as seen in the “ARc de Blob” by a collection of Austrian and U.K. artists.
The giant landmark archway brings a super aesthetically pleasing tropical colour palate to our wintry climate, and becomes a part of specially-created virtual worlds with the use of a mixed reality app available for download.
Then there is the “THROBBER,” a rainbow neon piece comprised of 10 rooms of various colours that you can actually enter and take a rest in. Once entering, you’ll notice that the colour of your room appears to fade to grey, helping to signify “the similarities and connections with each other despite individual differences.”
Also punctuating the waterfront will be a giant metal seashell-shaped object called “The Epitonium,” which comes from a group of Iranian artists who aim to provide a form of physical shelter whose architecture is wholly informed by the nature around it.
And, “From Small Beginnings,” a U.K.-born concept made up of an entire tiny forest of seedlings planted on 15 wooden shelves.
Seating and standing areas within the piece provide a place for visitors to seek refuge, interact with others (from a safe distance) and reflect.
The piece is an apt representation of the year past and what will hopefully be a better year ahead. As creators Jack and Charlie Leather write:
“Only upon entering the seating and standing areas of the installation the brighter interior is revealed; symbolic of the opportunities that rise from challenging periods, such as the year gone by. Like the seedlings, which can be replanted locally upon closure of the exhibit, we are all simply at the beginnings of our journeys.”
The last winning installation will see a giant, curved form meant to represent a warm hug, which is something we could all definitely use right now.
Designed by some students in Sheridan College’s Craft and Design program, it offers some comfort and protection from the wind and cold both physically and also in other ways, as felt in the warm colours used for its oblong arms.
Unfortuntely, due to the pandemic and the current stay-at-home order, the dates for the exhibition haven’t been set yet, but the team is just waiting on the green light from Toronto officials.