Conversation Pieces: Library Guardians
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Conversation Pieces: Library Guardians

Toronto is home to a cornucopia of public art. Some of the pieces acknowledge an individual’s greatness or are inspired by their surroundings; others are installed when developers want to exceed standard density or circumvent other zoning regulations—the public art is a trade-off for being allowed a variance from the rules. In each installment of Conversation Pieces we’ll look at several artworks devoted to the same theme, and consider what makes public art succeed or fail.
Today: a lion and a griffon guard our books.

Photos by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.

NAME: Untitled
ARTIST: Ludzer Vandermolen, after designs by Phillip H. Carter
The winged lion and the griffon are appropriate guardians for Lillian H. Smith Library and especially the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy that is housed there.
The winged lion is the symbol of Mark the Evangelist, who founded the church of Alexandria. Meanwhile the griffon is a monster who guards priceless treasure—in this case, knowledge. A closer look at the statues reveals they also have little animal companions around their feet. The pseudo-sphinx has a chimpanzee, a horse, a mouse, and more for friends, while the griffon’s allies include an owl and a fox.