Sarah Nind

 

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"Pine Cones":
City of Toronto / Harbourfront Community Centre Public Art Commission

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The memory of a site acts as a vehicle to create identity of the site.  Through this understanding of past one is able to create a matrix of meaning for the present urban and environmental context, and project to the future.  Pine Cones is a work which is addressing memory of site, specifically the memory of time and place of the site of the proposed Harbourfront Community Centre and School and adjacent water's edge promenade.

Memory of site resides below the fragile skin of the site.  At the Harbourfront Community Centre the concrete surface of the terrace and public promenade acts as this skin.  By creating a work which speaks of and alludes to fragments of remembrance and stamps into this concrete skin, Pine Cones is a work which enables memory to come to the surface, thus allowing memory to be released and relived.  Elements of the proposal include text, which runs the length of the site, and artifacts, which are found as random inlays and impressions set and stamped into the concrete promenade.  To allow for a more private domain of the community centre and school's terrace, the location of this installation is to be the public promenade to the east of the Centre, to be completed in Stage 1 of the site work.

Pine Cones references several fragments of histories of the site.  These include the histories of the site as an ancient seabed, as a watershed in postglacial time, and as the projected place for a future urban metropolis.  At the north end of the site, an historic creek, Nichingquakokonik (later renamed Garrison Creek) is found buried underground in a Victorian sewer. 

The major element of this proposal is a text that runs over the course of the site, from Queen's Quay at the north of the site toward the Canada Malt buildings at the south end of the site.  This text, written in 1831, by Joseph Bouchette, acts as an early historical memory of the water basin which was to become the Toronto Harbour, and the site for "the future metropolis of Upper Canada".  The text is overlaid upon the site, and can be read as a fragmented memory of site while walking both from north to south and south to north, thus addressing pedestrian movement in both directions along the walkway.  The text, reading from north to south, is to be inlayed cast bronze, while it's reflection and related text is to be stamped (engraved) into the surface of the concrete, and can be read moving from south to north.

While the text is orthogonally arranged over the site (representing the structure and order of the urban site), the impressions and inlays of paleontology, archaeology, and zoology are randomly arranged over the site, and allude to the randomness of the natural order, and the pre-urban order of the water's edge and the creek watershed.

Mnemonic traces of paleontology are shown as fossil impressions, stamped into the surface of the concrete skin.  What was once is no longer, only the impression of a physical presence remains.  Traces of archaeology are represented by both impressions stamped into the concrete surface, and artifacts which are recreated as pre-cast concrete objects inlaid into the concrete walkway, including three concrete inlays which simulate specific native artifacts found in the Garrison Creek site.  Zoology, the most recent memory, is represented by pre-cast concrete objects of specific invertebrate life that would be found in the area today if the site, and watershed, were not built over by the metropolis of Toronto.