CATCH MY DRIFT WOOD

25-foot in­stal­la­tion on Lake On­tario a trib­ute to our fair city

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - FRONT PAGE -

A long, sil­hou­et­ted body re­poses on Lake On­tario’s western shore, fac­ing down­town Toronto, as if watch­ing over the city.

The 25-foot, drift­wood in­stal­la­tion is a trib­ute to Toronto from artists Julie Ryan and The­lia San­ders-Shel­ton, 51 and 49, re­spec­tively.

“It’s just a fig­ure, an an­drog­y­nous one caught bathing,” Ryan said. “We wanted to do some­thing sculp­tural to show that we could do it, to prove to our­selves that we could.”

On Tues­day morn­ing at Hum­ber Bay Park, the re­clin­ing stick fig­ure sat in front of a washed out ci­tyscape with slen­der pieces of wood as­sum­ing the ap­pear­ance of ten­dons rop­ing around a lean frame.

The duo ex­pect it to be fin­ished on Fri­day, they said, adding that it’s al­ready taken two weeks so far.

Mul­ti­ple guer­rilla art pieces built of nat­u­ral ob­jects have cropped up on Toronto shores this sum­mer, some large oth­ers small. A stones throw away from the site stands an­other art­work the pair made in July, one they con­sider to be less am­bi­tious, though in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar on In­sta­gram: a Toronto sign with a heart made of the same ma­te­rial. On Canada Day, Ryan and San­ders-Shel­ton cre­ated an­other sign cel­e­brat­ing 150 years since Con­fed­er­a­tion, but it was later van­dal­ized and de­stroyed, they said.

To the east, the Les­lie St. Spit ap­pears to act as a mag­net for cre­ative im­pulses: you don’t have to walk far to come across del­i­cately stacked rocks by anony­mous cre­ators. Brian Pace pieced to­gether bits of con­crete de­bris to make small sculp­tures on the spit in 2010. And more re­cently, an­other artist has built tow­er­ing, villa-like for­ma­tions there, in­trigu­ing — and con­found­ing — lo­cals for years. He too made use of what was most plen­ti­ful in the area: bricks rounded smooth by the waves, in his case. A com­plex made by Robert Zunke was de­mol­ished over the sum­mer, but about three weeks ago, he sent Torstar News Ser­vice im­ages de­pict­ing large, elab­o­rate struc­tures re­built in its place.

Un­like Zunke, who is seem­ingly in­dif­fer­ent to praise and prefers to keep a low-pro­file, the driver be­hind Ryan and San­der­sShel­ton’s project is the en­thu­si­asm and sup­port em­a­nat­ing from sur­round­ing com­mu­nity, they said.

“We have scores of peo­ple who thank us,” Ryan said. “The com­mu­nity has been fab­u­lous.”

In­deed, dur­ing about an hour spent at the site, at least five peo­ple stopped to chat and of­fer com­pli­ments.

“It’s amaz­ing,” said Soud­abeh Ma­jidi, a nearby res­i­dent and art teacher. “I was just telling them it’s amaz­ing to cre­ate art us­ing na­ture with­out hav­ing too much im­pact (on the en­vi­ron­ment).”

Roger Weaver, who also lives in the area, has seen each project progress, he said.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s some­thing dif­fer­ent to look at. I’m just so im­pressed by the qual­ity of it.”

TORSTAR NEWS SER­VICE

Artists Julie Ryan and The­lia San­ders-Shel­ton add the in­ish­ing touches.

Artists put the fin­ish­ing touches on a drift­wood sculp­ture. Julien GiGnAc/TorsTAr news ser­vice

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