Art in the Park
Tony has been visiting High Park for many years and enjoys nature photography.
"I know why Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) was always so enthralled and amazed at every creature he encountered. I feel like that each and every time i see something in the park, be it the hawk, owls, coyotes, the beavers, it doesn't matter, I get just as excited the 100th time as the first. It's wild, untamed and it lives 5 minutes from my house. I can see it every day. I don't have to pay admission."
Sarah Nemeth is a local artist and long time enjoyer of Toronto's High Park. Sarah has created a series of paintings inspired by our stories and experiences within High Park. The paintings and stories together create a beautiful archive about who we are and how High Park has touched our lives.
Nicole Rulff is a naturalist and photographer born and raised in the High Park area. Her interest in High Park is life-long, as she spent much of her childhood exploring the park through sports, play and education.
In the past decade her interests turned to photography and fine art, and she began a multi-year project to capture the urban-wilderness landscape of High Park. In particular, she tries to capture in her photographs the relationship between the urban landscape and the natural.
- Visit Nicole's website
I'm a Toronto-based landscape photographer and have been making black-and-white prints for over a decade. I'm particularly drawn to the ever-changing beauty of High Park, especially when it’s captured in long exposures lasting several minutes. Time just seems to slow down. My artistic influences range from Ansel Adams to Tom Thomson and my work has been exhibited at the National Press Club in Ottawa, the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, and other venues.
- Visit Mark's website.
Katherine Pawling is a birder, naturalist and avid photographer who has lived near High Park for many years. Much of her photographic work comes from High Park, and Grenadier Pond in particular, and is reflective of her interest in nature and her admiration for the varied waterfowl and birds that call Grenadier Pond their home. A supporter of Canada Geese, she recently completed her first book entitled “Canada Geese on the Pond”.
Karen Abel is a Toronto-based artist and naturalist who creates contemporary environmental art works that consider, engage and accommodate 21st century urban ecology and biodiversity. Karen has realized public art gardens comprising native species of Ontario’s tallgrass prairie, oak savannah and meadow communities that provide urban habitat for birds, butterflies and other insects.
Migration Garden, an urban Monarch butterfly habitat at the Ontario Science Centre by Karen Abel. Images clockwise from top: Monarch nectaring on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata); Monarch caterpillar (4th instar); female Monarch laying egg on Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa); and Monarch egg on milkweed leaf.
- Visit Karen's website
As a photographer/naturalist Colin lends his expertise to help promote awareness of our local natural environment. He believes that the next generation of naturalists should be educated in a way that fosters their pride in the preservation and rehabilitation of the local green space. In this day and age of computer games and in-home entertainment Colin wants to inspire future generations to go outside and explore their natural surroundings.
Bridge in the Rain, is a collection of stories linked by an inscription on a bench in Toronto’s High Park. Her latest novel, Stone Woman, features the sculptures of High Park & Yorkville in its heyday.
Visit Bianca's website.
Bianca has also shared one of her poems inspired by High Park’s black oak savannah, a field of wild blue lupines, and catching sight of an elusive blue butterfly - and a runaway ball at the baseball diamond next to the field of lupins (from Memoirs of a Praying Mantis published by Turtle Moons Press, Ottawa. 2009):
Crack of skin to metal. Air still in anticipation.
Eyes drawn to the rogue ball escaping the diamond. Strike two!
A thud on grassy bed. Gentle flutter of silver wings. Blue lupins chiming silent bells as blue wings release spired host and bob through swaying meadow.
Cleated feet running through clumps of lupins. Blue wings drifting on gentle breeze through dappled shade of ancient oaks.
The boy pausing in grassy meadow. Eyes on silver-blue wings. Gliding through dappled shade of ancient oaks, sprawling crooked limbs embracing all.
Blue wings bounding through silent chimes of blue bells.
I've been taking photos in High Park since 2005, and as a photographer, remember every photo I ever take. I remember the time, the moment, the racing home to download photos, the excitement and the final printing. For scenic photos, photographers love a few rays of sunshine pouring down onto a wooded area, as happened with this photo. It doesn't happen too often in High Park, but when it does happen, living close by, I can look out of my window during the seasons, and if the timing is right, I can race out there to try and catch it all. The funny thing about this photo, and I sell literally hundreds of cards of this scene throughout the year, I've never found the spot again, and on a regular basis I continue to search through High Park's 399 acres. If you are out there with your Point & Shoot digital camera, please take a photo for me, and I'll get back there to try and recreate the scene again. It's in the east side of the park!
Linda Read has posted some gorgeous photographs of plants, trees, fungi and insects in High Park and environs on her flickr site. swampr0se
Wendy Rothwell has created a beautiful and informative website called Wildflowers of Toronto's High Park. Wildflowers may be searched by botanical name and by colour.
Woodland Sunflower Helianthus divaricatus
Habitat: Dry open forests, tallgrass woodlands
Blooms: July to September
Height: up to 1.5 m
Leaves: Opposite, lance-shaped tapering to the tip, rough on upper surface
Flower heads: 8-15 yellow 1.5-3 cm ray florets surrounding a 1-1.5 cm disk.
Visit Frances's website
"It is the visual change in the state of things which will reveal their essential reality". Taking artist Roy Ascott's quote as inspiration, I introduce a temporal aspect to the representation of the Oak Savannah High Park landscape during prescribed burns. I use photographs, some double exposures, taken at different intervals of time to present a multi-temporal view. I save rolls of film from one year's burn to reshoot during another time. These layered images not only capture scenes taken at different times in the same places, they also question the conventional idea that a photograph represents just one instance and one point of view. Although each individual photo has its own distinct identity, it becomes integrated into a larger whole, but with discrepancies. Growth and death have occurred during the years; things don't quite line up. The viewer is invited to participate in this ten year odyssey by looking closely and discovering the perceptual inconsistencies of shifting points of view, changes of scale and growth. I combine paint and photography to produce a synthesis between these diametrically opposed media and to explore their interconnections. I paint to unite the composites and add another dimension to the idea of permanence. Photographs will eventually fade, but the painted areas will last much longer. Thus the images will change over time, like the environments themselves.
A book of poems and paintings in celebration of High Park, Toronto
Published by Tundra Books, 1984 (out-of-print, available through the Toronto Public Library)
This delightful book celebrates all the seasons of High Park in poems and illustrations. It won a City of Toronto Book Award in 1985 and an honorable mention at Leipzig’s “best designed books from all over the world” exhibition the same year.
Warabé emigrated to Canada from Japan in 1979 and lives in Toronto. He spent nearly two years studying High Park, taking thousands of photographs and making sketches. He checked when special events occurred (such as the trimming of the hedges, the Saturday weddings, the lawn bowling and the band concerts) and returned to observe them. He also studied the park through the seasons and at different times of day.
For all the precision of the art, the book is not limited to realism. Warabé was concerned about the effect of the park on its visitors, the thoughts and dreams it inspired. These he added both to the paintings in fantasy touches and to the poetic text he wrote to go with them (see the Great Oak poem below).
The High Park Walking Tour program has included a walk based on this book since 2009. In Fall 2010 Warabé joined the walk as guest artist. Participants were invited to compare the scenes from the book, past and present, and also to compare them with their own personal impressions of the park. This walk will be repeated in September 2011.
The great oak pictured here - to many a symbol of High Park, loved and played in by generations of children - had to be cut down in 1983 because of advanced age. But it lives on in Warabé Aska's book.