The second annual Winter Stations exhibition is up on the beaches from Woodbine east to Kew-Balmy. The theme of Freeze / Thaw asked designers and artists to respond to the changing climactic conditions and transitions of the Toronto winter.
Our favourites are in part determined by the time of day and the weather when we saw them. Daytime or night, snowy or not, these installations are conceived to deal with differing winter conditions, and some are less interesting when those are not present. Steam Canoe, for example, has a mechanism installed to convert snow into steam. When we were there – no snow, so no steam. Several of the seven stations have lighting installed. Aurora Borealis, for example, looks a little droopy in the daylight but would be much more beautiful glowing against the night sky, as of course we should surmise from its name. Flow was designed to to be enhanced by snow and ice, and is a skeletal structure without it. All this to say, this is an exhibition that bears revisiting as weather conditions and time of day changes.
What was consistent in determining our appreciation on our visit was the experience of shelter. The installations are interesting to view from the exterior, and all offer some way to actively engage, but we liked the interiors where they existed. Being inside while outside on the beach added a whole other level of sensation to the installations and to the beach.
Enter Floating Ropes and you have a protected vantage point. Thick marine ropes dangling from a square frame create a porous enclosure that breaks the beach winds as you watch the waves.
The perfect sphere of In the Belly of a Bear is pierced by a wide ladder leading to a loft lined with furs, a cosy outpost with a circular belly-button window on the sky.
Steam Canoe, even without the steam, offers an over-scale, upturned canoe-shaped protective cavern that frames the beach and sky view.
Sauna is a functioning sauna, an intriguing transparent structure with welcome heat. The beach is still visible to you (and you are visible to anyone on the beach) while warm inside. We vote to make this a recurring feature every winter on the beach. Many days this winter might have been swimming days for us with this option available on the beach to thaw us out afterwards.
Fire Place on Woodbine Beach is not actually part of the competition, but is a spectacular gift to Toronto from architect Douglas Cardinal. A curving wooden windbreak resembling a shipwreck emerging from the sand surrounds a metal fireplace. The bench incorporated into the structure is well-designed for comfort, and finely finished. A destination in any season.
The exhibition runs from February 15, 2016 until March 20, 2016. Get out and get inside.
Flow Click on any image to enlarge
In the Belly of a Bear
– Schuster Gindin
Photos by Schuster Gindin
I was also quite aware of the smell at several of these installations. The ropes smell as one might expect, ditto the smoke from the sauna. Comforting, expected. But not so much in the belly of the bear, w/ its reek of freshly smoked drugs.
Suzanne Long, Toronto
These stations look so inspiring. Thanks.
Martha Baillie, Toronto
This article can be found in WHAT’S HERE in the section The City, and in GOING OUT in the section What We’re Seeing.