A life-sized faux fur playground for adults, created by Parkdale roommates and collaborators, Devon Thomas and Tess Millar, aims to meld childhood with the maturity of the cityscape.
The installation, titled Hyde, will be presented as part of Come Up To My Room (CUMTR), the Gladstone Hotel’s annual alternative art and design show.
“It’s about bringing a bunch of different tactile experiences and impressions together,” Millar said.
Inspired by Fur Breakfast, a 1936 sculpture by the surrealist Méret Oppenheim consisting of a fur-covered teacup, saucer and spoon, the full-scale functional playground will have swing sets and a slide tunnel all covered in fur. The installation measures about 10 feet by 10 feet and will be set up in the courtyard of 1169 Queen St. during CUTMR.
“Cladding it in furry hide makes it more tactile, more like a living thing rather than just a play structure,” Thomas said.
Where the pair grew up in St. Catharines, there was more open space and children were often out running and playing. But in places the two women go in Parkdale, it is unusual to see kids running and playing, Thomas said.
“We find no one seems to go outside and play,” Thomas said. “So we want to recreate (that experience).”
As children, they, and others in their neighbourhood, would go out on their own and have various adventures. But that doesn’t happen so much in the urban environment, the two said.
“I saw these two boys the other day, fully clad in snowsuits and kicking a ball back and forth on their front stoop, which was no bigger than two tables,” Thomas said.
With Hyde, the pair, both in their early 20s, are making their first foray into large-scale installation at the 10-year anniversary of CUMTR.
Thomas, a graduate of the bachelor of interior design at Ryerson, and Millar, a drawing and painting student at OCAD, have collaborated for the first time on a project of this nature.
“It is the first time (Come Up To My Room) has done anything outside of the Gladstone, so it has been really exciting for us to be a part of it,” Thomas said.
The installation has gone through some large transitions since the original pitch, which was designed to be inside a room in the hotel. With permission from the condo building management, it’s now in a large courtyard space.
Even though their space is off the CUTMR beaten path, the women are optimistic they won’t have problems drawing spectators and participants.
Hyde’s exhibition hours are today (Jan. 24) from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit http://hyde-project.tumblr.com for details.