Meet Briony Douglas, the Toronto-based artist behind the Harbourfront Centre’s upcycled art installation

Meet Briony Douglas, the Toronto-based artist behind the Harbourfront Centre’s upcycled art installation

In partnership with Canada Goose and inspired by its purpose to keep the planet cold and the people on it warm, the local artist used materials from past retail window displays, excess fabrics and products upcycled from the brand’s warranty program

Born and raised in Toronto, Briony Douglas is a visual artist, photographer, director and illustrator who’s known to use surrealism and elements of pop culture to create conversation-striking pieces. From sustainability to mental health, her mission when creating art is to push not only her own boundaries but of others in order to help viewers shift their perspectives on certain topics and spark important conversations.

Enter: Canada Goose. Inspired by Canada Goose’s purpose platform, HUMANATURE, which unites its sustainability and values-based initiatives, the brand partnered with Douglas to produce “Reborn: a HUMANATURE art installation”. The sculpture consists of a globe coming out of an iceberg, representing the themes of communal optimism, hope and rebirth, with an overarching message of making more sustainable choices.

We chatted with Douglas about this important work of art and her collaboration with Canada Goose.

You have a very recognizable and unique visual arts style. Where did your passion for art blossom from?

I’ve loved art since childhood and have created my whole life, but like most, I found myself taking many different professional paths before fully diving into it as a career eight years ago.

Growing up, I found myself feeling discarded and because of that, I always found beauty and potential in items that others may not see.

As a multifaceted artist with a background in visual arts, photography, illustration, and even directing, what’s your favourite artistic medium?

I love all mediums equally, they all bring about a different form of happiness along with their own challenges and opportunities to learn new lessons. Pushing myself to grow as an artist in all forms is important to me and those lessons help a lot with that. Building sculptures, especially the one we created with Canada Goose, is exciting but challenging. There is a lot of trial and error to bring these ginormous art pieces to life, but this is all an important part of the journey. Photography is exciting because it’s a medium I have done for a long time now, but every [project] is still new, exciting and helps me perfect my skills. Illustrating is always fun as I can just sit there in my zone and focus on the task at hand, which is almost like a form of meditation.

What does sustainability mean to you? Why do you think art is an effective medium to spark these types of conversations?

Art is such an incredibly organic way to strike conversations, whether you love it or hate it, it creates the opportunity for you to then discuss why. I do use a lot of my work to encourage people to talk about important topics, especially surrounding sustainability and how every action can make a difference. I think a lot of people believe that their actions can’t make a difference in the sustainability movement but every little bit counts and helps, this is mirrored in my art, especially the Canada Goose piece, as it took a whole bunch of small pieces to make one beautiful piece of art. Sustainability is important to me because the environment is important and I would like to make sure future generations are able to enjoy how incredible it is as well.

You worked with Canada Goose to produce your latest installation “Reborn.” Can you please share the meaning behind this collaborative project for you along with the sustainable messaging behind it?

Aligning myself with brands that share the same values is important to me, Canada Goose and I both feel passionate about sustainability and community. The idea was sparked by their HUMANATURE platform, which speaks to uniting their sustainability and values-based initiatives.

The piece itself is a globe breaking out of an iceberg. It is showing spring and everything being new—but I also think it just falls perfectly in line with our lives at this time. We’ve just come out of a two-year pandemic and things are starting to feel new.

The project symbolizes transformation and rebirth, taking what we’ve learned and creating new experiences and a new outlook on life. I really want people to feel connected and to [take away the lesson] that no matter how hard things can get, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel—and a moment to break free to be reborn.

Can you please describe your process of upcycling and working with older materials from Canada Goose?

This piece is made out of upcycled materials, including elements from Canada Goose’s previous window displays, excess fabrics and products upcycled from the brand’s warranty program. I also used these upcycled materials to create the Canada Goose out-of-home advertisement, located in the nearby transit shelter, transforming even more waste into an opportunity to protect the planet.

This public art is my largest piece yet. Most of the pieces I made for this installation have never been done before. I couldn’t YouTube it. I couldn’t Google it. It was a lot of ‘figuring it out’ and talking to experts. I had a great team of advisors, including expert woodworkers and seamstresses to bring Reborn to life.

How do you hope to spark more conversations around sustainability through this art installation?

I hope to spark more conversations around sustainability by having people simply look at the art. It is subjective, not everyone is going to love the conversation, but it is the beginning of those important discussions we need to have.

How has your experience been working with Canada Goose on this project?

I have been a fan of the brand and wear a lot of their products in my everyday life, so I am excited to partner with Canada Goose in a larger capacity. Through our shared commitment to sustainability, I am honoured to bring to life a piece of art that symbolizes so much and will spark conversations around this movement.

Click here to explore the HUMANATURE collection and make sure to visit the Harbourfront Centre by June 19th