Hot off the heels of 4/20, the Gladstone hotel launches the third edition of this cheekily-named exhibition dedicated to all things landscape-related
Curated by landscape architect Victoria Taylor and professional gardener Graham Teeple with Gladstone art director Britt Welter-Nolan, this weekend’s Grow Op exhibition probes the link between landscape and culture. Spread throughout the Gladstone Hotel, 17 experimental installations explore the impact that nature has on our lives and the potential it has to improve the urban environment.
Several of the show’s standouts engage with senses in unexpected, playful ways. Adrienne Hall’s In Place of a Forest, for example, fills a pitch-black room with pine trees. As you cautiously navigate the room, the characteristic scent and feel of the trees – plus the occasional sound of a forest critter rustling in the bushes – evokes memories of being in the woods at night. Studio for Landscape Culture also uses sound to great effect in their nearby piece. While the noises plants make while undergoing processes like photosynthesis are usually too quiet for humans to hear, The Language of Plants offers up two sets of headphones so visitors can listen to the imagined “voices” of an ecosystem’s vegetation.
Below, we showcase five of our other favourite installations.
Exhibition tours take place daily at 2pm and 4pm, or opt to get really wild at Grow Op’s opening reception on Friday night. $10
1 Design collective Nomadic Vision Studio‘s Flore Synethetica is one of several olfactory installations. Scented seed pod forms hang from the ceiling, creating a composition that resembles a beautifully chaotic crib mobile.
2 Due to the soil conditions in some remote areas, residential septic tanks must be built above ground. Architect Julie Bogdanowicz‘s Mounds at Work recreates one of the grassy heaps created to cover these waste treatment systems. An accompanying photo essay adds social commentary, as pictures of select rural properties reveal that bigger houses require bigger septic mounds.
3 Sandrina Dumitrascu and Clara Romero highlight the impact the Emerald Ash Borer has had on the local ash tree population by creating latex casts of some of the beetle’s “causalities.” The five trees from which the casts were made – all found in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood – had to be cut down to stumps after being infected by the invasive species, and will soon be removed altogether. They’re memorialized here alongside a wood panel that shows the patterns left behind by the destructive insects.
4 Landscape designer Ben Watt-Meyer draws attention to the Leslie Street Spit breakwater’s role as a burial ground for Toronto architecture. Photos pulled from Toronto’s archives depict buildings demolished during the city’s post-war building boom, like the Beaux-Arts Registry Building that once stood on part of what is now Nathan Philips Square. Below each photo, a map reveals where each building’s rubble was likely deposited along the Spit. Watt-Meyer fills the floor with material collected from the constructed peninsula, using tumbled bricks and other weathered building materials to recreate the shape of the manufactured peninsula they hail from.
5 One person’s trash is another person’s Grow Op installation material. Organized by Mammalian Diving Reflex and Sanjay Ratnan, Textures of Toronto fills a room with found objects – everything from lotto scratch-cards to stray twigs – sourced from nine Toronto neighbourhoods by a team of local youth. The eclectic collections are interesting distillations of each neighbourhood’s character. Hopefully, the display will also make visitors think twice about throwing that chocolate bar wrapper on the ground.