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Waterfront Toronto selects winners of West Don Lands public art competition

Canadian artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins propose a sculptural work, The Water Guardians, that will invite playful interaction from children and the young-at-heart.

As part of its public art master plan for the West Don Lands, Waterfront Toronto has selected two proposals for major public art commissions. The winning proposals were selected from a previously announced short list that included submissions from a range of emerging and established artists from around the world. Both public art sites are located on what is set to become an intensely animated stretch of Front Street east.

Our West Don Lands Public Art master plan is one of the first of its kind in North America,” said John Campbell, Waterfront Toronto’s president and CEO. “With the help of our funding and development partners, we are building a significant collection of public art that will enrich the West Don Lands neighbourhood and the City of Toronto.”

The jury awarded commissions for two sites, the Children’s Art Zone and the Front Street Landmark. The winning concepts will be completed and installed in time for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. A third site, the Pan Am Legacy, has yet to be awarded and Waterfront Toronto is continuing to explore opportunities.

Children’s Art Zone
The jury awarded the commission for the “Children’s Art Zone” to Canadian artists Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins, for their proposed sculptural work, The Water Guardians. For the site located one block west of Bayview Avenue and Front Street, the competition sought work that invites thoughtful and playful interaction and engage the young and the young-at-heart. “We chose something close to our hearts, the legacy of the Don Lands and its place at the mouth of the Don River,” said Marman and Borins. “Our rivers and lake are the life source of Toronto, and we have sought to memorialize this important message with our project ‘The Water Guardians’.”

Marman and Borins have previously received commissions for large-scale interactive public art installations, including one from the Toronto Transit Commission. They have a critically-acclaimed exhibition history and their work is represented in the National Gallery of Canada.

Front Street Landmark
The jury awarded the commission to Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata for his sculpture of lampposts to be located one block east of Cherry Street. The competition sought an artwork that would act as a landmark or gateway for people travelling from the downtown core to this stretch of Front Street East.

“Over the decades, Toronto neighbourhoods have had lampposts in a wide variety of styles, materials and heights that have come to characterize eras or areas,” said the jury’s statement of Kawamata’s proposal. “Having the appearance of Mikado sticks just before they fall, the formal bundling together of this jumble of city infrastructure collapses history and geography into one playful gesture.”

Tadashi Kawamata is renowned for his site specific sculptural work made with found or recycled materials. His works of note include Relocation at Serpentine Gallery, London, UK; Gandamaison in Versailles; andTree Hut in New York at New York City’s Madison Square Park.

Public Art Strategy for the West Don Lands
The West Don Lands is one of the first neighbourhoods in Canda to contemplate public art on this scale from the very early planning stages. As a result, the strategy for the neighbourhood outlines specific recommendations for conceptualizing, planning and commissioning art that builds a cohesive narrative for the neighbourhood. 

Previously announced public art for the West Don Lands include Mirage by artist and architect Paul Raff,Peeled Pavement by installation artist Jill Anholt and No Shoes by the American sculptor Mark di Suvero.

Waterfront Toronto 
The Governments of Canada and Ontario and the City of Toronto created Waterfront Toronto to oversee and lead the renewal of Toronto’s waterfront. Public accessibility, design excellence, sustainable development, economic development and fiscal sustainability are the key drivers of waterfront revitalization.

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Waterfront Toronto selects winners of West Don Lands public
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