From the expressway, the coloured strata of Katharine Harvey's Gardiner Streams stare back at the nighttime traffic, transposing the banality of the road into a work of art. Installed in 2014, the glass artwork finds unexpected beauty in the headlights and taillights below it, becoming a prominent presence in the daily commute. Now, two years later, the completion of Concord's Quartz condominium—and the nearby Spectra—saw Harvey's wok officially unveiled alongside installations by Pierre Poussin and Adrian Göllner.
For the Concord CityPlace community, the new installations attempt to bring vitality—and a sense of place—to a young neighbourhood where public art is already a prominent presence. Joining nearby works such as Douglas Coupland's Canoe Landing Park and Eldon Garnet's Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial, the three new installations contribute to nurturing—and shaping—the neighbourhood's emerging identity.
At ground level, Pierre Poussin's Variegation offers a variation on the artist's nearby Mitosis Courtyard (above, left). While the latter installation's blue world enlivens the previously desolate space under the Gardiner, Variegation takes on a sunnier site. Located directly across the street from Canoe Landing Park, Poussin's green clearing joins the landscaped pathway just north of Quartz, and figures in other locations around the site.
Inspired by the area's indigenous flora, Variegation offers a 'fossil' of natural heritage, bringing the conspicuously new neighbourhood into a playful dialogue with the rhythm of evolution. "On this very land, about 100,000 years ago, we would have been surrounded by thousands of small white flowers… clematis virginiana," says Poussin. A number of the laser-cut light columns also double as windscreens and benches, providing custom public seating that invites passerby to linger.
Hundreds of feet above, Göllner's Drift adds to the Warm By Night rooftop lighting program that characterizes the CityPlace skyline at night. As with their CityPlace counterparts, the glazing that encloses Quartz and Spectra's mechanical penthouses is lit up by LED installations. Commissioned as a CityPlace artist since the first towers were completed in 2001, Göllner's Warm By Night has grown with the neighbourhood, with each new building topped by a colourful display.
While lighting the roof of a new condo is now a very common—and cost-effective—way of bringing personality to residential high-rises, the first CityPlace towers stood out against what was an almost overwhelmingly commercial skyline. "Concord was looking for a way to distinguish and define their towers against what was still a very corporate Downtown," Göllner explains, noting that the chosen colours spoke to domesticity. In the years since, the older displays have since been upgraded with more efficient LED lights, which also allow for much greater visual variety.
Though Göllner's recent work follows a well-established precedent, Drift pushes the concept further, with the displays atop Quartz and Spectra programmed to cycle through colour tones at slightly different rates. If you watch for long enough, a slow dance unfolds above, with each tower seemingly reacting to its partner.
Already established as an eye-catching CityPlace icon from the expressway to the south, Harvey's Gardiner Streams now begins its second life from the other side of the glass. The work is enclosed in 60 glass panels, spanning a width of 75 feet and a height of almost three storeys.
"I like to take subject matter that people don't think is beautiful, and make it magical," says Harvey, adding that the image comes from photos taken of traffic on the Gardiner. For residents of the condo, Gardiner Streams bathes the indoor pool in soft and complex colour, enriching a recreational space that might otherwise suffer for its concrete and steel view. To the drivers on the other side, the figures walking by the pool emerge as shadowy silhouettes.
Concord's latest installations were appointed in partnership with Toronto-based Public Art Management, who have overseen the art throughout the CityPlace community. We will keep you updated as CityPlace towers continue to rise, accompanied by new public art. In the meantime, make sure to check out our dataBase files, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a message in the space below this page, or join in the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum threads.
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