Results announced for Delimit: An Online Competition for Speculative Public Art Proposals


Markham Public Art and the Varley Art Gallery of Markham are pleased to announce the 10 finalists of Delimit: An Online Competition for Speculative Public Art Proposals. This open competition invited professional artists to submit public art concepts for sites chosen by the public and the project’s production team. From the 45 proposals received, a jury composed of leading professionals in the field selected the 10 shortlisted projects. Each of the 10 artists received $1,000 to further develop their ideas into renderings, as a way to analyze the site and test the proposed form of rendering. Finally, jury members each chose their favourite project and provided an explanation for their choice. All proposals remained anonymous to the jury throughout the entire process. To see images of the shortlisted projects and to read about the jury’s thoughts on their selections, visit the Varley Art Gallery’s Instagram page. Delimit is part of Online, a digital initiative for public art that has unfolded throughout the summer of 2020.

Ten Shortlisted Projects
Located in front of the Markham Pan Am Centre, Jen Aitken’s Solar Circuit is a network of sculptural seating forms with an overhead shade screen made of solar panels. These panels power a radiant heating and cooling system embedded in the benches. Borrowing circular forms from the archetypal form of the ancient sports stadium, Solar Circuit is a self-sustaining functional sculpture that provides an adaptive meeting place for the public and users of the athletic centre.

Shin Hang Chiu’s Market Village Bits revisits the history of the Pacific Mall area and pays homage to the now demolished Market Village building. Once situated alongside the Pacific Mall and serving as a place of commerce and gathering for the Chinese community, the building was an eclectic aggregation of gable roofs. In this proposal, the roof forms are reimagined as fragments across the site—artifacts that speak both to the surrounding suburban houses and to the history of the Chinese diaspora in Markham.

Nicole Clouston & Quintin Teszeri’s project uses the space located inside the cloverleaf to the southeast of the intersection of Hwy 404 and Hwy 7, an area surrounded by heavy motor traffic continuously emitting exhaust into the atmosphere. The artists’ propose a land-based intervention wherein tiers of carbon-trapping plants curated from Markham’s local ecology embody the possibility of carbon neutral solutions. By giving this site purpose as a carbon sink—an organic space that absorbs carbon—the artists’ put forth a speculative ecology of organic reparation.

Laura De Decker’s Entangling Gate, located in the open space around the Aaniin Community Centre, is a large-scale laser-cut stainless-steel panel processional entrance way. As a decorative motif, the work features the interference pattern of a quantum random walk. Triangular etched black granite embedded in the concrete walkway matches the elevated panel’s cut-outs, positioned at the summer solstice’s 63-degree angle of noon light. In combination, the gate is a photographic negative, and the sunlight makes the granite a positive print.

Robert Lee’s proposal responds to the delimiting function of a Google Map street view, a key technology that contributed to the realization of this competition. To him, street view provides the ideal platform to address the cadastral and colonial history of the site as embodied by the old town hall located at 96 Main Street North. Mapping onto the site at night, the proposed video projection consists of animated representations that serve as a ghostly reminder of the building’s storied history, while offering a nod to Markham’s diverse population.

Leslie Leong’s proposal for Mount Joy Lake, Bringing the wild back to life, honours the porcupine, which originally roamed the land before forests were cleared in 1850. A life-size porcupine cast in bronze climbs one of the trees skirting the lake, while its tracks in concrete are embedded into the grass.

Tom Ngo’s proposal for the two retaining walls located at the intersection of Henderson Ave. and Proctor Ave. reinforces and reframes the built environment. In this piece, viewers are simply presented the dimensions of the underpass. The visual overlay is a series of 1:1 measurements, executed in metal through CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining. The metal is mounted to the concrete, outlining the construction of the retaining wall. As one walks or drives through, physically or digitally, the intent is for the viewer to become aware of and be present within this element of the urban fabric.

Responding to the ecologically-sensitive qualities of the site, Scott Rogers’s The Sapsucker Feeds the Ant, The Ant Feeds the Sapsucker approaches Rouge Urban National Park from a regenerative design perspective, to suggest artworks that give back to nature. His proposal features three subtle sculptures that function as multi-species habitats. Each one is made from naturally felled trunks of mature native trees that have been bored into across their surfaces, thus creating cavities and holes. Each tree will be inscribed with the title—a cyclic text describing interdependencies in nature. The work will naturally decay over time.

Dan Tapper’s Between Two States is a sonic meditation bringing the underwater sounds of Mount Joy Lake into enclaves of trees surrounding the lake. The work is positioned as part installation, part guide for exploring audio effects produced in aquatic environments. The recording apparatus is positioned at the centre of Mount Joy Lake and broadcasts underwater sounds to listening stations situated on the shore.

Conceived for the Arthur Lismer Park, Rhonda Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky’s Perfect Oasis welcomes visitors into the Shops on Yonge plaza. The piece provides a series of resting places—including a bench, a drinking fountain, a shade-providing tree and a light fixture. Using topiary, cast metal and concrete elements, the installation playfully uses scale to accommodate a full range of human size, from toddler to tallest known human.

Markham Public Art

Varley Art Gallery of Markham

Inquiries: Anik Glaude, Varley Art Gallery of Markham Curator or Yan Wu, Markham Public Art Curator