The concept of ‘urban fabric’ describes the defining qualities of the urban environment: the interplay of built form, streetscapes and open spaces; networks of communication both visible and invisible; and the daily rhythms and patterns of city dwellers. ‘Urban fabric’ points to what is formal and tangible, as well as what is temporal or experiential – characteristics that cannot be seen. In this sense, fabric is a metaphor, a lyrical reference to something quite unlike itself. It captures and conjures the evolving ‘stuff’ that makes up a city – the built environment, webs of individuals, and the social, technological, and economic processes that produce a particular urban framework.
A single 19th-century blanket from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection sheds light on ‘urban fabric’ as an everyday object of daily life, and a powerful vehicle for communication. Through the matrix of this familiar artifact, the exhibition explores what it means to live in, know, and imagine a place.
The artists in Urban Fabric: Portraits of a City engage with the interwoven hard and soft dimensions of the city from multiple perspectives; their photographs, paintings, sculpture, film, and pattern-making create a portrait of a city, often taking Toronto as their subject. Both Scott Eunson and Jessica Craig examine the co-existence of the city grid and the natural landscape, acknowledging geographic oddities, holes within the urban fabric, and what has been built-up over time. Scott Norsworthy looks at the urban realm as a literal textile, seeking out and photographing the city’s anomalies and holes. Sheila Ayearst dwells on the material, the tangible, and the everyday, with her laborious paintings of concrete surfaces, each very specific, yet ubiquitous. Filmmaker Shlomi Greenspan engages the pulse and pace of contemporary urban life, but introduces a glitch in its anticipated flow. Working with patterns that appear through mapping the city, the Department of Unusual Certainties reveals the physical infrastructure that makes it possible, while exploring new social relationships that emerge.
Based in Toronto, Deborah Wang is an independent curator and designer. She completed her undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Waterloo, and a Master of Fine Arts degree at OCAD University. Through her diverse practice, Deborah has curated and co-curated exhibitions for the Gladstone Hotel, XPACE Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Women’s College Hospital, and Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects; taught design studio at Ryerson University; and co-founded FEAST Toronto (a series of community dinners and micro-funding events supporting local art projects). Currently, she splits her time as Creative Director of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival, a designer for superkul inc |architect, and as a scholar/maker.
Related Programs and Events
Wednesday September 17 from 6:30 to 8 pm
Please join us for the opening reception of Urban Fabric at the Textile Museum of Canada. Curator and artists will be in attendance and light refreshments will be served.
Free with admission.
URBAN FABRIC | URBAN IDEAS
Curator and TO DO Festival Creative Director Deborah Wang in Conversation with Artists Scott Eunson and Shlomi Greenspan
Talk and Tour Saturday January 17 from 2 to 4 pm
Join us for a conversation about art, design and the city as explored in the exhibition Urban Fabric, and the histories and futures of urban experience that inspire sculptor Scott Eunson and filmmaker Shlomi Greenspan.
This program is offered in conjunction with the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), an annual city-wide platform for the exhibition and engagement of independent design in Toronto, running from January 19-25, 2015. Presented with the support of the Hal Jackman Foundation, this event is part of the TMC’s NeoTrad Lecture Series, addressing the convergence of tradition with 21st-century cultures of contemporary art, craft and design around the world.
Admission to the Textile Museum of Canada is free on this day thanks to the support of the Hal Jackman Foundation.