This New Art Exhibit Will Help You Embrace Winter
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This New Art Exhibit Will Help You Embrace Winter

Come January, Ice Breakers will stretch along Queens Quay from Yonge to Bathurst.

Leeward Fleet Photo: RAW Design

This is what one of the exhibits, Leeward Fleet, will look like. Photo courtesy of RAW Design.

BY: RAW Design
INSTALLATION: Jan. 21 through to Feb. 26, 2017
LOCATION: Queens Quay (Yonge to Bathurst streets)

By the time winter rolls around, the image of throngs of tourists and locals roaming the waterfront starts to give way to a starker picture of stillness.

Ice Breakers, an interactive showcase of public art, is determined to alter our perception of an empty, dreary winter landscape by coaxing us out of hibernation mode.

The sprawling exhibit, which will stretch along Queens Quay from Yonge to Bathurst streets in January, features a collection of public art works that reference the commercial history of the harbour.

It builds on the success of Winter Stations, which lures seasonal shut-ins and outdoor enthusiasts to the Beaches, with its scenic beauty of towering installations fashioned from lifeguard posts that are set against an icy, grey backdrop.

Ice Breakers is a collaboration between architectural firm RAW Design and the Waterfront Business Improvement Area. Following the tradition set by its predecessor, each work featured in Ice Breakers is playful response to its surrounding context.

Leeward Fleet, set to be displayed in Canada Square, recalls a portrait that has long since faded from our collective memory: colourful ice boats floating on the harbour, once carrying commercial goods and ferried people to and from the Toronto Islands.

Aaron Hendershott, one of the artists behind Leeward Fleet, says they drew direct inspiration from photos discovered in the Toronto Archives’ online database during research for the project.

“[The ice boats] were an important part of the harbour’s cultural and economic heritage,” he says. “It was how people got to and from the islands.”

The result is a sculptural interpretation of the ice boats, which will be mounted on a revolving platform—think of it as a “giant Lazy Susan,” Hendershott says. The idea is to have the sails powered by prevailing winds and passing pedestrians.

Hendershott sees projects, such as Winter Stations and Ice Breakers, as part of wave of efforts designed to get the public to appreciate the winter, even in the face of its brutal might.

The exhibit runs from Jan. 21 through to Feb. 26, 2017.