Colorful public art exhibits pop up in the Distillery District


Now that the warm weather has arrived, Toronto residents will be looking for an excuse to go outside and make the most of the sunshine. Serving as a great (COVID-friendly) activity are four new public art exhibitions now on display in Toronto’s Distillery District.

The exhibits are part of the seventh annual Winter Stations design competition, which launched its Spring Stations installations. The organizers had initially postponed the traditional start of family day on the beach earlier this year due to the pandemic.

With improved weather and plans to encourage social distancing, the team brought the winning designs to life as part of an unprecedented Spring Stations program in Old Town.

The public can now view the three exhibits, ARc de Blob, From Small Beginnings, and The Epitonium, for free along Trinity Street and Gristmill Lane.

READ: Centennial Park is getting a (gradual) upgrade-filled makeover

A fourth station, THROBBER, can be seen at 33 Parliament Street just south of the Distillery District as part of a partnership with Graywood Developments.

“After the challenging year we’ve had, we hope these three beautiful installations can bring hope and positivity to our visitors,” said Elena Price, general manager of the Distillery Historic District. “We are excited to have a popular Toronto event on our property as new and trusted customers return.”

For the 2021 contest theme, Refuge, the organizers invited artists to reflect on the year we left behind and what Refuge means for each of us in their entries.

Here’s what visitors can expect.

The epitonium

public art
Photo credit: Khristel Stecher

M. Yengiabad’s epitonium is inspired by nature and was created to imitate the epitonium shell.

“In the course of history, mankind has always tried to learn from nature and to be inspired in order to gain new experiences and to enable themselves and others to have a better life. Nature is the source of inspiration for architects, artists and scientists. It is our origin and destination. This includes not only external environments such as clouds, trees, sea, mountains and animals, but also buildings, components and materials. By building structures with forms that are familiar to us, creating two-dimensional graphics and architectures with thickness, depth and volume, it can complement nature and be part of it. The epitonium creates a beautiful, functional landscape. This idea leads to natural shelters becoming a place of refuge. The design is inspired by epitonium, a type of shell, and fits in perfectly with its location. “

From small beginnings

public art
Photo credit: Khristel Stecher

From Small Beginnings was designed by Jack and Charlie Leather and features interlocking shelves covered in spruce seedlings.

“In the past 12 months, many have found solace – perhaps unexpectedly – in the great outdoors. In a year like no other, great joy has been found in returning to more holistic roots. From Small Beginnings hopes to seize this movement; and at the same time provide a platform and space to take advantage of new opportunities. Through shelves that support a future forest, the installation allows visitors to seek refuge from tougher elements while meeting strangers from a safe distance or enjoying calm reflection. Only when entering the lighter interior becomes visible; symbolic of the opportunities that arise from challenging times. Like the seedlings ready to be replanted, we are all just at the beginning of our journey. “

Visitors are encouraged to take a sample home and then replant it themselves.

ARc de Blob

public art
Photo credit: Khristel Stecher

The ARc de Blob by Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum is a colorful, domed landmark that serves as a place of orientation, interaction and refuge.

“This architectural object creatively mixes physical materials with the ability to digitally interact and connect through a mixed reality app. The installation creates incredible virtual worlds – a visual refuge in which we can interact, connect and play. The physical form refers to iconic architectural compositions and elements; and contrasts with colorful materials and patterns that create warm and inviting protection. The arch itself acts as a framework for a virtual portal / refuge in mixed reality – a space of new digital worlds: creative environments designed to encourage visitors to play and interact digitally and physically together. Ultimately, the piece is an evolving blend of digital art and physical architecture that creates playful interactions between these realities. “


public art
Photo credit: Khristel Stecher

THROBBER by Heidundgriess is described as “The reasons why people seek refuge are as varied as the people themselves. They wait. The accessible installation consists of 10 small trapezoidal “shelters” arranged next to each other in black and white. In combination they form the color spectrum of a rainbow. Inside, the colors are reduced to gray. Seen from the air, it forms the shape of a “punch”, a symbol that is used by computer programs (waiting, buffering). This symbol is carried over from the digital to the real world as a symbol for the active experience of time, a transition in which different perspectives, longings, hopes and motivations come together. The installation is an invitation to perceive similarities and connections with others despite individual differences. “

The winning exhibitions are now on display and will be open to the public until the end of July.

Ainsley Smith

Written by
Ainsley Smith

When Ainsley isn’t writing about real estate, local developments, and beautiful homes she would have loved to live in, she can usually explore Toronto, cook, exercise at home, or hang out with her cat, Jerry Seinfeld.

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