Colourful, alien-looking habitats have landed at the beach.
The seven works have planted themselves over lifeguard stations across the partially snow-covered sands of Ashbridges Bay, showing up over the past week but officially launching today on Family Day.
The odd structures, which are already attracting plenty of interaction from beach and boardwalk strollers, are the results of a design contest.
Now in its fourth year, the Winter Stations international design competition aims to bring temporary public art installations to the Beach to celebrate our winter waterfront landscape.
The competition announced it was hoping to have them stretching across all three beaches of the area’s shoreline.
But, so far at least, they are congregated in the western Woodbine Beach end, possibly due to ongoing construction taking up beach space in the other two areas.
Four of the designs this year have been created by teams from the United States, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Three have been designed by teams from Canadian post-secondary institutions: OCAD University, Ryerson University and the University of Guelph.
If the designs seem particularly provocative this year, it may be because the theme of this year’s competition was presented as “RIOT: violent disturbance; uproar; outburst of uncontrolled feelings; a large or varied display,” to reflect a year of upheaval and uncertainty.
Artists were asked to “act out,” speaking out on the political, cultural or environmental climate, railing against passive, placid art and design — while at the same time promoting creativity and joy.
From the delighted response of the first viewers on Feb. 19, it seems the winning designs succeeded more in the latter aims. Few visitors to these strange new worlds seemed disturbed and most appeared to genuinely enjoy checking into both the outsides and insides of the novel structures.
The Wind Stations are taking up residence in the area until April 1. They are free for public perusal.
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