A Downsview Wind Rose installation by Future Simple Studio follows both the prevailing winds and celebrates the ancestral importance of this place to the indigenous First Nations people. It is a dynamic installation of blue flags arranged in a radial network of 32 square arcs like a compass forming a large rosy shape. It was designed by Mi’kmaq artists Chris and Greg Mitchell, who lead the Born in the North design studio.
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A wind rose is a tool invented by meteorologists to map the direction, speed and frequency of wind at a specific location. The Downsview wind rose is specific to Downsview Airport and maps the area’s prevailing northwest winds. The work is titled “The Turtle and the Traveler” to Turtle Island, the native name for the countries of North America, and the people in the eastern forest who first called Toronto, Canada home.
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The flags are positioned with special meaning: one is white to represent the north on the medicine wheel, another is black to represent the west. Some flags are marked with petroglyph-style artwork that is traditional to the native people of Toronto.
The white flag shows a traveler to represent indigenous peoples’ use of this place as an important route for trade and travel through history. The tortoise on the black flag represents Turtle Island and local wildlife. The turtle shell refers to a medicine wheel to highlight traditional teachings.
In addition, the installation is part of XOXO Downsview, a celebration of public arts, culture and local heritage launched in partnership with Toronto’s Year of Public Art. It includes dynamic installations, murals, multimedia works and an audio walking tour of the Downsview Lands and Downsview Park. It also highlights local artists to bring people together and highlight the history and potential of Downsview as a destination and generator of cultural works.
The architectural team for the project were Christine Djerrahian, Ernst van ter Beek and Martina Di Bacco. The project was built for the client Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company.
+ Future Simple Studio
Photography by Cinematoscape