Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto is an annual outdoor art installation that isn’t to be missed.

Have you heard of the Winter Stations in Toronto?

It’s an international design competition that gives purpose to a space that’s underutilized during the winter. Designers create public, outdoor art around several lifeguard stands at Kew Beach in Toronto. These lifeguard stands are only used during the summer months and otherwise are vacant bits of metal.

The result? Thought-provoking, inspiring, and even interactive works of art that everyone can enjoy. So, let me show you around this stretch of beach in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto to discover these outdoor art displays.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

ABOUT WINTER STATIONS

In its fourth season, Winter Stations Toronto brings an exciting temporary art display to the Beaches neighbourhood, at Kew, Balmy, and Ashbridges Bay beaches. By developing the temporarily abandoned lifeguard stands on the beach, locals and visitors have a reason to visit this beach in the winter, too.

The lifeguard stands are the base for the art installations, which must be built to withstand the punishing winter weather of the city. This international competition is open to architects, designers, artists, and landscape architects.

This year, the theme is RIOT:  “violent disturbance; uproar; outburst of uncontrolled feelings; a large or varied display.” As this past year has been one of conflict and upheaval, RIOT calls designers and architects to act out. Express your resistance through this art. This might be political, cultural, or environmental in nature. First and foremost, this project aims to evoke happiness and playfulness throughout our long, Canadian winters.

THE WINNING ART

Out of 270 submissions, here are the seven works of art that won the competition. These art installations in Toronto are bold, bright, and courageous. It’s art that imitates life, and makes us think about important issues around the world and in our daily lives.

PUSSY HUT

Pussy Hut is created by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng of the United States. It’s a large scale version of the pussy hat, worn by men and women in solidarity on Women’s Day.

This structure also functions on a practical level as a shield from the elements. There are wooden shelves and bare plywood on the inside, encouraging people to leave mementos or scrawl messages that unite us all, working towards equal rights.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

REVOLUTION

Revolution is the work of several students at OCAD University in Toronto. It’s the combination of 36 vertical modules of various heights. As people speak into these modules, their voices are amplified and carried out into the air. The breeze carries these words and ideas into the atmosphere to create a collective voice.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

RISING UP

Rising Up is a concept by a team at the University of Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development. Inspired by the topography of the Don Valley, it showcases nature’s objection to mass urbanization. This battle between humans and the environment is illustrated through many layers with empty spaces that expose visitors to the elements.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

NEST

NEST is a concept by a team at Ryerson University, which contrasts a space of comfort with a complex system of disarray. Asymmetrical woven webs symbolize the overwhelming nature of everyday life. While these patterns provide playful displays of shadow and light, the visitor can also find a peaceful reprieve from outdoor noise to view the world clearly.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

OBSTACLE

Obstacle is made by Kien Pham of the United Kingdom. We all encounter obstacles in the world, and at first, they seem daunting. However, once we face these obstacles as a society, we can work together to overcome them. In this outdoor art installation, people must work together to maneuver through the columns in order to conquer our hardships.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

WIND STATION

Wind Station is art by Paul van den Berg and Joyce de Grauw of the Netherlands. This collection of hundreds of pinwheels looks like a nuclear cooling tower. It calls for the phase out of nuclear power, in favour of renewable wind energy.

This art installation raises the question of why we rely on dangerous forms of power when we have safer and cleaner alternatives available.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

MAKE SOME NOISE!

Make Some Noise! is a work of art by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid of Germany. This public art is an instrument to “ring the alarm.” Just as Italian Futurist Luigi Rusollo’s ‘intonarumori’ caused an uproar in the classical music scene in 1914, this giant noise box comes to Toronto to do precisely that.

There are four cranks on each side of the box, which sound four sirens of varying pitches. This encourages visitors to get loud, make some noise, and break their usual patterns of behaviour. Unfortunately, we were unable to sound the alarms because there was a homeless individual sleeping at the base of this artwork, and we didn’t want to disturb him or her.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations

PLAN YOUR VISIT

Each lifeguard stand had an art display that was playful and thought provoking, so I was very impressed by Winter Stations Toronto. It’s something that’s out of the ordinary and brightens up Toronto’s winter waterfront.

The Winter Stations in Toronto run from Family Day (mid-February) until April 1st, so there’s still lots of time to get out there and see them for yourself.

Best of all, it’s public art that’s free to visit anytime.

Want to see more photos? Check out my entire travel photo album of the Winter Stations. You can also purchase prints, housewares, and more from any of my photographs directly from the album itself.

Winter Stations Toronto: Outdoor Art Installations | Public Art in Toronto | Outdoor Art | Beaches Neighbourhood, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PIN this image to your Pinterest for future reference.

Thank you so much to Lindsay for taking every photo of me. It was also a delight to discover Winter Stations with you!

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What’s your favourite place to explore outdoor, public art?

14 Responses

  1. Tom
    | Reply

    I hadn’t actually heard of the winter stations, but I love the creativity of them! I would love to run through the obstacle!

  2. Danila Caputo
    | Reply

    We are reading a lot about Canada because we’d love to visit but we still hadn’t heard about the Winter Stations. My favorite installation is the Pussy Hut, if only because it’s cute and pretty colorful! I love that people can scrawl messages or leave mementos!

  3. Fiona Maclean
    | Reply

    Some of those are quite stunning. I like Revolution in particular. I wonder what they will do with them when winter is over?

  4. Harmony, Momma To Go
    | Reply

    These are so cool! Especially being that I am so NOT creative, I totally appreciate the creativity of others!

  5. Elaine Masters
    | Reply

    How I love outdoor art and the repurposing of space. Wynwood is one of my favorite neighborhoods for murals and wild walls. Wish I were going to be in town for the Quebec project.

  6. Jill
    | Reply

    I’ve not heard of this before but what a cool setting and great idea. Would love to see this in person.

  7. Neha
    | Reply

    This is beyond cool! Thanks for sharing 🙂 #WeekendWanderlust

  8. Obligatory Traveler
    | Reply

    What an amazing idea! I love super creative, imaginative art. I live not to far from many beach towns and I wish one of them would have something like this during the winter. I’d brave the wind and chill to see some cool art. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Ghia Lorenzo
    | Reply

    Wowww! Thanks for sharing this post! I really love how beautiful these pieces of art is, creatively done. I would like to congratlatebthe artist of these art pieces. Thans again for sharing this post!

  10. Efthimis Kragaris
    | Reply

    This project is so original. What a great initiative to take advantage of the stations and install these amazing exhibits. The pussy hat looks really cute but I believe my personal favorite is the Nest!

  11. Lucy
    | Reply

    This art show looks so good! I love how all the art work is on the beach. Your photos are great, but in real life up close it must of been fascinating. I think my favourite is the ‘Nest’ it look like a colourful igloo!

  12. Claire
    | Reply

    This is such a good idea to use vacant spaces for artistic use to benefit everyone! I hate how things shut down in the winter, so this is the perfect idea to attract people to the beaches in winter. I think my favourite is the pussy hut!

  13. Megan Jerrard
    | Reply

    I love the idea of Winter Stations in Toronto! I’ve heard of it now!! I love how it gives people a reason to visit the beach during winter, and utilizes this otherwise abandoned space for the season. I love that the displays promote current social issues, like the pussy hat, and have meaning to raise political awareness and advance social inequality. All artists have done really well in creating interesting and meaningful displays!

  14. Siddhartha Joshi
    | Reply

    It’s admirable when cities make such an effort to make sure they stay active and vibrant during the cold winter months, and an a thought provoking art exhibition is such a good idea! I really liked the pussy hut – great thought and execution.

    Last year I was in Toronto in summers and clearly the city has such a different vibe during winters…maybe I need to plan a visit again 🙂

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