The wacky, wondrous plants taking over the Gladstone

The wacky, wondrous plants taking over the Gladstone

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Grow Op isn’t your typical garden party. There are no terracotta pots or manicured lawns. Instead, lush grass floats over mirrored pools. Hands made from moulded resin hold up succulents. Hundreds of yellow daffodils dangle from the ceiling and sprout out of the floor. The Gladstone Hotel’s fourth annual landscape art exhibition features 30 surreal installations, each riffing on the relationship between humans and nature. The show runs until Sunday, April 24. Here, a closer look at our favourite installations.

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Toronto Flower Market; Jessica Gale, Sas Long, Jaime McCuAig and Sarah Nixon

Roughly 500 full daffodils—bulbs and all—comprise the blooming canopy that covers the ceiling and floor of the Gladstone’s entrance lobby. All of the flowers were grown by Pioneer Flower Farms in St. Catharines.


(Image: Gabby Frank)
All Night Blossoms Fell

Wabi-Sabi Collective

Artist Vivian Wong cut up her old grad school textbooks and white tissue paper to make thousands of flower petals. They’re scattered across the floor, attached to the walls and hung from tree branches like a mobile. The piece was inspired by wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy focused on finding beauty in imperfection.


(Image: Gabby Frank)
Sticks, Stones, String and Sealing Wax

Michael Rennick

The multi-media artist filled a room with mischievous sculptures, like miniature treehouses hanging from a tangle of tree branches or held by resin-cast hands. (One of the hands plumes up like fungi or a sea sponge—a happy accident that Rennick hasn’t been able to recreate since.)


(Image: Gabby Frank)

Design Build Grow Studio

These basil and mint plants are able to grow without soil thanks to a hydroponic garden that pumps nutrient-rich water. When visitors turn the bicycle wheel, the system pulls water from a reservoir and cycles it through the series of plastic tubes.


(Image: Gabby Frank)

David Perrett

Perrett found these logs outside the sculpture yard at York University, where he’s currently an MFA candidate. The heap reminded him of the brush left after clear-cutting, and he decided to give them new life as art. To create the wobbling sculptures, he split open each eight-foot log, then used chainsaws, axes and rotary tools to carefully carve out the innards. He made a bronze cast of the base and filled it with lead tire weights. Visitors can push the sculptures to make them sway. The swirls and patterns on the surface of each log are trace markings of emerald ash borers, insects that eat and travel underneath the bark.


(Image: Gabby Frank)
Altered: The Evolution of Toronto’s Church Landscape

Jasmine Frolick and RobynNE Redgrave

Frolick, an urban planner with ERA Architects by day and an artist by night, along with graphic designer Robynne Redgrave and a few friends, built this wooden sculpture, which is inspired by the evolution of churches in Toronto from 1797 to 1834. The old rope that weaves through the archways and up the pillars was once used to ring church bells.


(Image: Gabby Frank) Photograph by Gabby Frank

[R]ed[U]x Lab

Billowing patches of lush grass adhere to metal poles that connect to mirror pools on the floor. Over the course of the four-day exhibition, the grass will “adapt” to its surroundings—which really just means that it’ll yellow and dry out.


April 21, 2016

An earlier version of this post contained an incorrect spelling of Jaime McCuaig's name.