When I ran my workshops at OCAD University in January, it was my hope to show how a community of practice could be formed around eco-arts and environmental literacy could be encouraged through the act of making. One of the artists who attended my first workshop was Cyril (Cy) Williams. I met Cy in 2014 when he brought his Imaginary Dragon to FIGMENT Toronto, a free participatory weekend art event on Olympic Island that I curate. Cy’s dragon was built over two days by his team of volunteers and some members of the public and was such a huge success that he re-staged it at Nuit Blanch in October. It was a piece that excited me because it was made from broken camping gear and obsolete junk.
This year, Cy surprised me in the most wonderful way. When we started talking about his installation for this year’s Figment event, I became instantly excited. Cy told me that he had been so inspired by my workshops that he wanted to run his own at Figment, creating a secret garden on the island using waste plastic. He mentioned that the piece would be lit up at night and that’s when it would really come alive. I trusted his vision and accepted his proposal on the spot. However, no conversation could have prepared me for the magic space he created. After the circus event and fire spinning, I took a walk to see what he had done and was so delighted and enchanted with the results.
That Cy took inspiration from the research I was doing into the power of making and collaborative eco-stewardship is exactly what I had hoped to achieve with my work. In September, I will be travelling to Plymouth (UK) to present my research at the Making Futures Conference. It makes me very happy to be able to add this to my presentation and I hope that future posts will reflect a growing community of eco-artists and environmental stewards.
To view Cy’s images from the weekend of art-making, check out his Facebook page images here.