Last year we were deeply embedded in Toronto’s Interior Design Week, as part of Studio North at The Interior Design Show. This year, we’re visiting the parallel and definitely more alternative Toronto Design Offsite (TODO) Festival that runs from January 19 to 25. The annual event is a platform to showcase prototypes and installations that celebrate the diversity of Canada’s energetic design scene and as such it provides vital exposure to some of the country’s most promising designers while introducing the public to the practice of design.
Toronto native Lee-Anne Bigwood, loves noticing, observing and participating in the arts scene in her city. So it’s not surprising that she offered to visit part of this year’s TODO Festival and report back on items and exhibits that might be of interest to us and to you! Her post covers a Festival favourite — Come Up To My Room (CUTMR) — which returns for its 12th consecutive year at Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel.
Let’s just talk about the venue itself for a minute because the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West is a thing of beauty. Designed by George Miller, the architectural style is characterized by the rough cut stone and brick and by the dramatic arches over the windows and porch entrances. Using the original 19th century Victorian architecture, exposed brick walls and high ceilings, local Canadian artists have come together to transform the Gladstone’s 37 hotel rooms into experimental, alternative works of art. Since each bookable hotel room in the historic, 125 year old building represents a different artist’s vision, and it is also an event and cultural space, hosting awards, literary projects, social change events, live comedy, and music; no two visits will be the same.
If you go, take the time to admire the charming architectural details.
Come Up To My Room also hosts many audio and video installations, along with many multi-layer tapestry pieces, which can’t be fully appreciated without seeing their movement amongst art lovers breezing by, but I had to include this next one because the imagery is so striking. The string from the faces travels up to drape and curtain the ceilings, while the wall with the multiple faces has a constantly changing projection, along with experimental and abstract audio recordings. By Annie Tung, it is called, simply, ‘X.’
X is an installation that cultivates the idea of hidden messages and unknown desires. We sometimes cannot control our words or action and become frustrated. There are no words to explain this frustration but only a desire to break out from the shell.”
Finally, “From now until the end, and now again“, by Fareena Chanda stimulated in me an appreciation of the natural world, as it was presented juxtaposed against a mimicry of that world. The artist explains that the installation
explores the human relationship to our mortality. A walk through a fantastical garden to a final resting place evokes contemplation on our preparedness to face the end. The immersive mixed media installation invites the viewer to commit their mind and body to the physical space around them and imagine themselves undergoing sublimation. The piece aims to height our perception of our temporality in this world by ultimately asking each individual ‘where are you headed?'”
These photos and selections are just a small portion of an expansive and affecting exhibition, which runs until January 25th, with their closing party happening Saturday Night.
You can follow Lee-Anne’s adventures through Toronto Design Week, via her Instagram account, @littlebitesbig.