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Reflecting on Toronto Landmarks

Documenting diverse relationships to Toronto places

CLIENT – Koffler Arts, Toronto, CA

MY ROLE – Leading research, participatory art creation, facilitation, illustration, design. Conducting research sessions as well as facilitating workshops and hosting co-creation sessions. Creating pop-up space design, branding, graphic design, and illustration.

SERVICES – Pop-up space design, community engagement, facilitation, graphic design, illustration.

 
 

The Challenge

When it comes to the built environment, Toronto is a city known for its vital heterogeneity but also lack of memory. Buildings and places that were once central to peoples’ lives suddenly change or disappear. Monuments to personal and collective histories vanish. I wanted to learn about places in the city that were meaningful to people on a personal level. To collect this knowledge, Koffler Arts commissioned me to develop a participatory research process and visual archive.

The Result

Over the course of the project, it became clear that the built environment means different things to different people. Some barely noticed it. Others had a love-hate relationship. Still others had colourful memories and strong connections to favourite places. This collection of stories and images attests to individuals’ rich variety of sensory memories and emotional experiences.

 
 

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A Pop-up Research Space

I designed a street-front pop-up space on Dundas Street West. The set-up encouraged visitors to share and record notes about memories of meaningful Toronto landmarks. The space was open weekday afternoons for 8 weeks.


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Interviews, Drawing & Storytelling

A large table with notecards, pens, and pencil crayons occupied the centre of the room. There was a map on the wall for noting locations. I interviewed 43 visitors, spoke with them about their experiences, and noted their stories on small notecards. Visitors were also invited to draw, colour, and take notes informally.


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Workshops & Events

An opening event launched the project. 3 groups from the Taddle Creek Playschool visited for workshops. A group from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health passed by for a guided tour.


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A Memory Archive

I collected 43 stories as well as additional input in the form of participants’ notes and coloured postcards. I then visited many of the 43 locations selected by visitors and drew each of them. I turned these drawings into postcards, that I then mailed back to the storytellers to recognize their contribution.


 
 

What we made