Winter Stations art installations officially open on Family Day at Woodbine Beach

The Forest of Butterflies, by Luis Enrique Hernandez of Xalapa, Mexico, is one of the six Winter Stations art installations now on display along Woodbine Beach. Photo by Rushanthi Kesunathan.


Winter Stations unveils its temporary public art installations on Family Day, and once again, they will bring an array of colour to Toronto’s Beach community.

Now in its fifth year, three international teams and three Canadian teams have transformed Toronto’s lifeguard stations into stimulating pieces of pop-up art. The six installations dotted along Woodbine Beach will be open to the public  officially at noon on Monday, Feb. 18, and the exhibit runs until April 1.

On the theme

Each year Winter Stations tries to pick a theme that is topical and is conducive to multiple interpretations. Migration, the movement from one region to another and often back again, is this years’ theme. Designers were asked to explore all aspects of migration such as the complex social issues surrounding humanity’s shaping of global society, the flight of animals and the exchange of ideas.

According to the designers

Above the Wall by Joshua Carel and Adelle York, Boston, USA.
Above the Wall positions humans, physically and symbolically, above a barrier constructed around the lifeguard stand at Woodbine Beach.

“We wanted to tangentially address the theme of migration but primarily contest the idea that walls should be used to fortify and delineate boundaries between countries,” Joshua Carel said. “Which is relevant given the conversations happening around the border wall between Mexico and the States right now.”

In addition to creating humanitarian crisis one thing that is left out of the discourse of the border wall is that it impedes species migration patterns, he said. “So if the wall is built along the U.S and Mexican border, about 100 migratory species would be significantly impacted by the wall,” Carel said.

Mind Station by Tomasz Piotrowski and Lukasz Chaberka, Lomianki/Warsaw, Poland.
Mind Station is a pavilion that allows users to lose their physical dimension.

“We wanted to focus on the migration of thoughts, the connection between people and how our ideas are spreading,” Piotrowski said.

“With our design we were able to separate the head from the body, which is not so important in the process,” Chaberka said. “Today we have a lot of misunderstanding and fake news, and so when we focus on our faces we can just say what is the truth.”

The Forest of Butterflies by Luis Enrique Hernandez (Xalapa, Mexico).

The Forest of Butterflies represents the forests of Michoacán, Mexico, where each year, the insect with the longest migration in the world is received, the Monarch Butterfly.

“It represents the migration and colours of our people, the power of insects and butterflies are one of the powerful in the world,” Hernandez said. “And in a way, it also represents the problem in our country, which is immigration.”

Cavalcade by John Nguyen, Victor Perez-Amado, Anton Skorishchenko, Abubaker Bajaman, Stephen Seungwon Baik (Toronto, Canada).

Cavalcade reflects the collective spirit of human movement. It depicts people migrating towards something better.

Designed by a team consisting of four students and a professor from the University of Toronto, Cavalcade is made up of 86 colourful cut outs of people.

“The people are anonymous, we don’t know who they are, where they come from and they represent the journey of migration,” Professor Victor Perez-Amado said. “They are all carrying bags and painted in different colours as a way to represent someone different.”

Cavalcade was inspired by the caravan of people who fled Latin America by foot to seek asylum in the U.S.A., Perez-Amado said.

Ground² by Humber College (Toronto, Canada).

Ground² is an experiential journey of migration that beckons the user to participate in the ever-shifting human and environmental landscape.

The Humber team consists of 18 members, and Ava Boroumandi is one of them.
“Ground² is like a pixelated reality. We look at the throw away culture of plastic, which is used in an explicit manner today,” Boroumandi said.

“When something created by man is destroyed, we call it vandalism but when we destroy something created by nature, we call it progress. Our design tries to see through the material and examine the subject of migration from two particular themes which is environmental and informational.”

Chairavan by Sheridan College (Mississauga, Canada).

Chairavan reimagines the lifeguard tower as a migratory species. Its team member, Curtis Mohrhardt, said the group just wanted to have fun with their design.

The team made the lifeguard towers to pose as actual living things so it looks like they are the ones migrating, Mohrhardt said.

“We made nine different towers, in all different sizes, so that there’s just a family of them,” Mohrhardt said.

Enjoy outdoor art

“Come out every day for the next six weeks to get respite from our harsh dull winter with the fresh joy of public outdoor art to take us to spring,” Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said.

Winter Stations Inc. is an award-winning, not-for-profit organization. Winners from its annual international design competition exhibit their art along Toronto beaches as a way to encourage people to step out during the winter season.

Winter Stations’ sister exhibition, Ice Breakers presented by Ports Toronto is also open until Feb. 27, along Queen’s Quay. Visit for more.


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