Completed in January 2022, this commissioned piece is located in a passageway that houses a public Info Desk and Box Office. The tall corridor has openings on three of four perimeter walls. It crosses the width of the building, bisecting a bloc of community/retail zones and workshop/gallery zones, and linking key outdoor spaces. It is covered by industrial steel deck ceiling, finished with durable surfaces, and lit for safety and purpose. This is a space for movement or function, not a place for pause.
Into this environment, Clouds of Colour inserts a unifying spatial element capable of transforming passage into gathering space. Seemingly countless powder-coated wire shapes are suspended at varying heights in a variety of bright colours that glow in contrast to the darkened industrial ceiling. Warm yellows and oranges are balanced by cool reds and magentas in an analogous harmony without jarring contrast or emphasis. Instead, we focus on the graphic effect of lines. Quirky and irregular lines appear hand-twisted into organic and botanical figures, some suggesting branching foliage and flower petals, while others are reminiscent of seed pods and stamens. Perimeter lines connect with infill lines to trace areas of transparency and density in the two-dimensional figures. Closely arranged in overlapping layers that do not quite touch, these suspended shapes create an expanded – even exploded – three-dimensional decorative field that is visually striking as visitors move through the area.
McCavour has been expanding the limits of linework and drawing for almost a decade by making experimental embroidery and textile-based art objects and gallery installations. Last summer, during a pandemic period at Harbourfront Centre (June 2021) when public access to gallery projects was uncertain, she worked outdoors to add colourful, circular drawings as a temporary floor mural on the lakeside skating rink. Visitors were free to move across the pavement and respond to the colours and shapes as they wished, unconstrained by any behavioural expectations of an art gallery. This summer, with Clouds of Colour, McCavour is back indoors having learned from her direct interventions in public space.
The artist uses spatial techniques to activate an unruly public interior. An overhead field of related wire sculptures continuously fills the ceiling to unify an uncontained room. As visitors walk beneath the united decorative field, they recognize a landmark in reverse that gives character to the corridor and denotes a recognizable district. This upside-down, otherworldly garden of luminescent grasses and wildflowers gently sways with the movement of people through the walkway.
Spatial experience can be understood as the sensation of interaction with a space, through all our senses over time, on both physical and cognitive levels. In the same way, Clouds of Colour activates an experience of architectural space by giving an overlooked transitional area its own spatial value. Clouds of Colour shelters a threshold where we can pause – at least for a moment.