BLOOD, WATER & BATHURST STREET (BW&B) is a multi-disciplinary, participatory project about navigating an active relationship to land, place, and community. Encompassed within an 18-meter long wool map, stories, experiences, and land-based knowledge are translated and brought into conversation through materials. Experimenting with a wide variety of textile handicraft techniques and processes, primarily in wool and found natural materials, BW&B has been a site for ongoing material research as new additions are incorporated in response to contributions from the public. 

BW&B was most recently exhibited at Stackt Market (Bathurst & Front) as part of the DesignTO Festival 2024, and was awarded the Best in Festival: Exhibition Award! More info about the DesignTO show available here.

This work began with exploring my family’s multi-generational history here in this place now known as Toronto, and the broader Jewish and Queer communities that have grown here and shaped my own identity. Beyond interpersonal relations, I have sought to establish further connection and understanding of/with the lands and waters that have shaped these territories. Many Indigenous Peoples have dwelled, gathered, and journeyed through these lands for millennia, yet their stories and ongoing presence have been largely erased from public memory here in the city alongside drastic resurfacing and colonial development of the land. It has been particularly interesting to further investigate this area of the city as a confluence of multiple diasporic communities, including those of Chinese, Korean, Afro-Caribbean, and Filipino descent.

The map surveys Bathurst Street and its geographic surroundings, from the current shoreline of Niigani-Gichigami (Lake Ontario) up to Steeles Avenue (the City of Toronto’s northern boundary). At a scale of 1:1000, where one meter of fabric represents 1 kilometer of land, it offers a highly focused and tactile reading of an often underappreciated swath of this vast metropolis. BW&B is unequal parts family tree, topographic exploration, material research, and–with growing contributions from visitors–community-sourced historical document. 

It was first exhibited in March 2023 at the Ada Slaight Gallery and subsequently installed on College Street (just east of Bathurst) as part of a pop-up art party hosted by FENTSTER gallery in May 2023. These events invited folks to contribute their own narratives and knowledge to the map through custom archival tags.

The map itself was designed as a scroll and is mounted on a self-contained, mobile structure, built out of standard steel piping and reclaimed wood from an oak tree that used to stand in my parents' Toronto backyard. This form allows various lengths/sections to be displayed at different times, and is highly adaptable to a variety of spaces. The piece thrives in accessible, high traffic settings that maximize opportunities for public interaction; it is intended to be touched, investigated, seen from different angles, and of course, added to through the tagging system. 

Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more about the project, or perhaps showcasing it in your space!

Photos by Sarita Esi & NDB

Using Format