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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Humber footbridge lit up with “critters”

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Large, organic shaped creatures hang from cables on the Humber Bridge, just feet above the heads of pedestrians crossing the river. There is something peaceful and weird about them, beginning with the fact that no one’s really sure what exactly they are. Created by a collective group of volunteer professionals and artists in Toronto called Interactive Arts, the sculpture’s idea was conceived several years ago, though only realized months ago.

Kim Breland, a member of Interactive Arts, affectionately refers to the sculpture as “the critters.” She says though it’s up for interpretation what exactly they are, what can be assured is that they were made for the structure they’re attached to. “We were inspired by the bridge, by the architecture, by the surroundings. This is the first time that anyone’s been allowed to do anything on the bridge.”

The sculpture took the group of artists seven months and over 1,000 person hours to assemble. Made of fibreglass painted in vivid colour, it also boasts an internal 1,200 LED lights that brighten it at night. The artists used the old Joy Gas Station near Sunnyside as a workshop for the more than half a year they were working on the project. What they created was something they are all pleased with, and are all hoping for some community response to. The first thing they need is a name, and they’re leaving that open to a contest to decide. Anyone is welcome to offer a suggestion.

The sculptures were put up a couple weeks ago, and their arrival was kicked off with a party on the bridge last Thursday. A few hundred people ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed at the giant creatures while acrobats did splits on ribbons, fire throwers performed and other performers wowed the crowd on stilts. The public has already shown a warm reception to the project – even just by showing up and spending a few hours on a bridge for a night.

Councillor Sarah Doucette attended the opening party. She says when she first saw the artwork for the project, she thought the sculpture was teeth. But after seeing it up on the bridge, she thinks it looks more like a couple of sea-dwellers who have escaped from the river. Her suggestion for a name is the “Humberlings,” in honour of the river they float above. Whatever their name ends up being, she thinks the project altogether is fun. “This is wonderful, we need something like this,” she says. “This is different – it’s outside the box. Artists aren’t given enough chance to show their displays and their artwork.”

And she’s not upset about the sculpture drawing people into her area of the city, either. “This is what Toronto should be about,” she says. “Let’s keep it in the west end.”

The sculptures will be on the pedestrian bridge until September 20, inconspicuous by day and glowing at night. If you’d like to submit a name, you can fill out a form on the Interative Arts website.

Breland says the sculpture is supposed to be seen as many possibilities. Though each artist has an idea of what it is, they also like the idea of people using their imagination when seeing it. “We constantly hear about new discoveries under the ocean or in outer space and we get very excited about that,” she says. “But there’s wonder and joy and beauty all around us, and so these guys are just kind of quietly sitting there, reminding people that if we just open our eyes, we could see far more than we expected.”



  1. If you like this project, you can help support it on Indiegogo here: