Monthly Archives: February 2012

Because northern cities are Vitamin D deficient, artful weaving of light is not only critical, it’s life giving.   For a pedestrian bridge in Toronto’s south financial district, New York light artist James Carpenter cast  silver-golden sequins of light across a long, north wall. Something to wear as you’re walking by.

Somebody please assign Carpenter to work some cinematic magic on one of the 132 towers now being developed for Toronto.  Because they will surely need his help. For more on what sculpting with light means, visit the SOM/James Carpenter 7 World Trade Centre, which has already elevated the future of Ground Zero.

Tones of sepia from Carpenter’s light wall reflected onto commuter traffic in Toronto, where red brake lights finally serve an aesthetic purpose. Both calming and buzzy, (and I’m sure David’s Tea has a label for that one.)

My hero of ethereal light:  James Turrell, maker of the monumental Roden Crater installation and, here, next to his light wall at Bay-Adelaide Centre in downtown Toronto.   For those curious about the subtle disappearance of colour this one is worth a pilgrimage. And it’s easier to find than an ancient volcanic crater in the desert near the Grand Canyon.  Though I’m going to get there.  Photo: Barbara Astman

Post-apocalyptic steelworks re-imagined by light artist Hans Peter Kuhn, the guy who did large-scale urban light first and best.  The Volklinger Hutte is a World Cultural Heritage site. Kuhn’s symphony of colour light shows us why.

 Even as a flicker, light illuminates.  Considered as a measure of grace or as an up north street light: Snowball igloo, lit by a candle, made by freezing hands.

In the lugubrious shadows of a cavernous church: Prayer candles, Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence. Still burning hot. Still mesmerizing. Or, as James Turrell says:  “Like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire.”


Gestures of love take time to imagine and create. So, to honour the time that it takes to create beauty, I’m renaming Valentine’s as Valentime’s.  Like this table made one summer at the cottage by my son, Alexander.  Every stick was selected from the North Kawartha forest, measured for scale and texture, then cut to size and secured with tiny, delicate dowels. Not a single nail was used.  Rustic and honest, it seemed the perfect plinth for the Venus de Milo-style dark chocolate and golden goddess (made around the corner by the chocolatier Sharon Shoot),  presented by my romantic man this morning as part of our 24 hour Valentime’s.

My version of Valentime’s means not only honouring each other, but spending time looking up and being amazed by all that grows beautiful on this planet of ours.  Stake your claim to love.  Make your mark on the Canada Kiss Map.  Happy Valentime’s!!

Nature’s veil:  Sea fan and Geneviève, Nevis.

A veil is the mystery that comes before. Before the great flood of humanity moves below: Brookfield Place by Santiago Calatrava casts a veil over historic and modern office buildings, creating a monumental atrium in downtown Toronto.

Particularly astute at combining seductive forms with astounding engineering, New York based-Asymptote Architects created a grid-shell exterior veil for the Bas Hotel, Dubai. It edges a Formula 1 racetrack.

 Anybody recognize the bride?  Her dress and the barely there veil of ivory silk tulle was designed by Alexander McQueen. Please note that the trim of hand-embroidered flowers was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. The veil is held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to Miss Middleton by The Queen…something new, something borrowed, something blue…

Blue Light Showers by public artist Jill Anholt.  Water from Lake Ontario, purified by ultra-violet light, cascades down the mesh veil and into water channels at the newly opened Sherbourne Common on Toronto’s waterfront edge. Feeling blue?  Go see this at night.