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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Heading in the right direction

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When artist Carolyn Tripp was a teenager making day trips to Toronto she found the big metropolis confusing, and would occasionally find herself headed in the wrong direction after exiting a subway station.

This experience planted the seeds for her Street Level Efficiency project, stenciled directional markers painted guerrilla-style on the ground outside each subway station.

Initially, she began practicing her stencil art in other areas, including stenciling the word "fatality" in a coffin-shaped outline at Queen and Gladstone to mark the spot where cyclist Ryan Carriere was killed by a truck.

Then her discovery of a subtle but charming metallic compass set into the ground outside Bathurst station's exit further inspired her to tackle the whole system.

In the summer of 2006, Tripp stenciled a simple white NORTH arrow outside most subway exits. She's not concerned about repercussions from the TTC, since she believes she's helping them out. "I'm not defacing TTC property or vehicles," she says. "I really believe the sidewalk is for everyone."

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Tripp has been a contributor to Spacing since the spring of 2007.