Get to know Ice Breakers, Toronto's outdoor art exhibit that was inspired by the cold

Toronto’s Waterfront Business Improvement Area is, during a normally bleak and dreary winter, setting out on a mission to get people outside into the cold through winter-themed art exhibits. Speared by RAW Design, Polymetis and Ferris & Associates, Ice Breakers is a series of five art exhibits located along Queens Quay in downtown Toronto. This collaboration for this exhibit came from Winter Stations, a wintertime art competition in the area to create something that would attract people from their houses and to the area. 

The idea for Ice Breakers came from a resident of the Waterfront, who regularly walks his dog along the beach but found that there wasn't anything drawing people there. Ted, the resident in the area, “thought that this would be a good place to try and bring design and architecture to this fairly desolate landscape,” explained Aaron Hendershott, a designer at RAW Design in downtown Toronto.

RAW Design was the designer of one installation, titled Leeward Fleet. It consists of three colourful sailboats and is located near the Harbourfront Centre.

Image via  BlogTO

Image via BlogTO

"I was doing some research into the area and we came across an archival photo of the Toronto harbour and it showed people out on these ice boats, which are essentially sailboats on skates and they can go quite quickly,” Aaron explained. “I was surprised because I never knew about that and so we were trying to use the piece to tell a story about those ice boats.”

The exhibits are available for the public to see until February 26.

“From what we've seen the feedback has been fairly positive so I really hope that we can continue to grow and expand the event next year.”

Ice Breakers is not intended to a permanent addition in the Waterfront, and Aaron explained that next year he hopes to have more time to organize a different, larger group of artists and design firms to participate in the project, and will reach out to design firms throughout the world who are interested in participating. 

“Generally the plan is that they're temporary exhibits that usually will be dismantled, however it's been our experience in the past that the materials used in them generally take on a second life depending on what they are. We've seen exhibits from Winter Stations adapted into other forms and in some cases the installations have been relocated in their full form to more permanent locations.”