Secrets of an Ever Changing Landscape
Artists: Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward
In the fall of 2016, Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward of @hotspurstudio "took over" our Instragram account (@LakeshoreGrnds). During this time they posted a series of 24 images inspired by the history and changing landscape of the Lakeshore Grounds. The collection is now available in its entirety below.
Click on the thumbnails to view the images in full along with their accompanying text.
To view more of Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward's work, please visit hotspurstudio.com
Artists Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward presented Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre's #instagramtakeover in fall 2016. The exploratory project #secretsofaneverchanginglandscape is a serial of the artists' experiences on the Lakeshore grounds of Humber College where history and landscape collide. The images were posted on the @LakeshoreGrnds Instagram account between September and October, 2016.
Archival photo and cut out paper pigeon The area was known for the passenger pigeons that would gather and swoop over the shoreline. Their now mythic presence is honoured by the Aboriginal name Mimico or originaly Amimika. Their extinction has become a more significant event over time as it signals how the landscape is such a big part of how we have evolved.
Pastel and acrylic on paper Within the tunnels built by patients, remnants of the past psychiatric hospital.
Archival photo and acrylic painting on wood We understand now that the word ‘Lunatic’ was derived from a belief that the moon affected a person's mental state; ancient cultures based many rituals on the phases of the moon. It’s a word with a meaning that has transformed many times much like the Lakeshore grounds.
Pastel and acrylic on paper Tunnels are stories in the Earth.
Modified photo There were rumours for many years that dead bodies were stored here but they were not and in fact buried properly in a cemetery on the grounds. These industrial buildings that made electricity and other things are often cast as houses of horrors in our culture. It might be because they are not homes or places for humans but buildings for machines.
Archival photo and cut out lantern When the hospital first opened people would leave their epileptic babies on the shoreline. Nurses would go out in the night with lanterns to find them.
Pastel and acrylic on paper A juxtaposition of the remnants of the tunnels built by psychiatric patients and the new college.
Modified photo Realities could sometimes seem distorted inside the hospital. Many patients commented over the years that the world seemed upside down.
Pastel and acrylic on paper Tunnels are stories in the Earth; the brick roof, the last remnant of the patients efforts.
Modified photo The people buried here went to their deaths without a true understanding of their place in the world. At one time the cemetery was connected to the hospital grounds but now it is blocks away, surrounded by modern industrial businesses. Though it is tended to its location seems to some to be a metaphor for ruminations of indifference.
Modified archival photo Comet West in the mid seventies was a truly dazzling event which stands out in meteorological phenomenon. However it became the most ignored comet in history. By 1979 people had also forgotten about the ‘Asylum by the Lake http://www.asylumbythelake.com/
Pastel and acrylic on paper The tunnels are still used today for utility purposes, with access generally limited to a small number of staff: the past is still visible.
Acrylic, pen on wood The last decades of the hospital was entropic. This was a time of transition along the Lakeshore as the hospital began to deteriorate from neglect. The beauty of the landscape faded into the background.
Archival photo and cut out clouds There are many mentions in the stories from hospital patients about how they walked around the buildings outside for fresh air each day. The clouds became important signifiers to them.
Modified photo Outdoor cantina dances with lanterns in the trees and waltzes of the early 20th century eventually gave way to indoor parties with Led Zepplin and ABBA. Now there is only the stories. The Lakeshore Grounds are remarkable in their illustration of how the world became modern.
Pastel and acrylic on paper Tunnels are stories in the Earth; today they are widely visited by the public on organized tours.
Photo and cut out paper pills Initially the hospital’s intention was that patients could engage with nature through farming, orchard tending and water activities. When you read the stories from the 60’s and the 70’s you find that one of the only outdoor activities left was raking leaves. The biggest change in this period was the introduction of pharmaceuticals which brought many new side effects and challenges. As a result, patients spent less time outdoors.
Toronto has many creeks and rivers, it really was and still is a city of water. The Lakeshore Grounds reveal this everywhere as the transformation from the ancient to modern is an ongoing ‘palimpsest’ of formations, both geographical and through stories.
Acrylic on paper with modified photo The shoreline was very much a part of the hospital and its buildings. It now is fill with a marina and an extended jetty that pushes further into Lake Ontario. Perhaps this extension is an obstacle that we have deliberately built to pacify the mighty nature of large bodies of water. What if one day the water takes a stand and decides to move closer in land?
Pastel and acrylic on paper Bricks strewn about on the Lakeshore grounds were once used for fill. They are now where trees grow.
Modified photo All tunnels seem to inspire this idea. The storied tunnels at the #LakeshoreGrounds even more so.
Pastel and acrylic on paper Nature’s reemergence is a true signal of hope in every story.
"While we have spent a lot of time outside cities exploring wilderness & resource developed areas, it is has been a very special experience for us to find an urban place that is keeping its transformation relevant to its present." This concludes the #InstagramTakeover of @LakeshoreGrnds of #secretsofaneverchanginglandscape by artists Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward.