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“Toronto Island Narratives, Past and Present”

Last summer my neighbour and friend, Delwyn Higgins asked me to be part of  “Toronto Island Narratives, Past and Present”, a group show of Island artists which took place at The Market Gallery, a wonderful space upstairs at Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market. The show was a memorial tribute to Island archivist Albert Fulton who had recently passed away. Albert had a vast and fascinating collection of mostly visual material pertaining to the history of the Islands which he preserved in his home on Algonquin Island. The archive was traditionally open to the public on Sunday afternoons. Participants in the show were asked to spend some time perusing the files and create a piece of visual art that responded to or was inspired somehow by images or documents in the collection. From the beginning I had an idea I wanted  to deal with the history of gay experience on the Island. For as far back as anyone living can remember, Hanlan’s Point beach, the western-most tip of the Island, has been a gay cruising ground. The dunes and trees between the road and beach provide a gorgeous and natural setting for shenanigans of all kinds! Hanlan’s Point was also at one time home to various hotels, amusements and attractions such as the the famous diving horse. I found, through the archive, some murky photographs and postcards with images of the long-gone Hanlan’s Point Dance Hall. One postcard from the ‘teens had the wonderful quote, “Hanlan’s Point is a particularly gay spot!”. I took this as the inspiration for the piece above. In my revisionist imagining of the Hall circa 1910, ghostly gay couples, fresh from a day at the beach, twirl about as if in a langourous dream…

Thank you, Delwyn, Emily Fulton and all the folks at The Market Gallery for a great experience!

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