Mind Blown by Manikins

I feel kind of badly writing about this art show that Meghan and I saw on the Monday of the Labour Day long weekend, because, alas, it is over now and most-likely never to be repeated. However, I also can’t not include it because it was one of the coolest art installations that I’ve ever seen.

The show was The Milliner’s Daughter, by Ydessa Hendeles, at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, located down at Toronto’s waterfront.

Briefly, Ydessa Hendeles is a 68 year old Germany born Canadian artist-curator, philanthropist and collector, who is director of her own art foundation in Toronto. From what I can glean, she has been immersed in the local art scene for most of her life, having opened a gallery beside The Rivoli on Queen Street West in 1980.

Her wiki page is linked about if you’d like more details, or if you feel like a good long-ish read, check out this pdf of an 1993 article about her in Canadian Art Magazine.

While researching Ydessa, I came upon a series of photos here in the Globe and Mail, which show her home before she sold it in 2014. Aside from giving viewers a look at the breathtaking grandeur of her former late 1800s residence, the shots include some of her enviable collections, as she had them displayed.

The gallery’s description of the show reads : “Ydessa Hendeles explores perceptions of difference and diversity in her work, assembling objects and artifacts into contemporary fables about the way representation and distortion, appropriation and assimilation can filter group and individual identities. The Power Plant will display a selection of her artworks drawn from the past decade.

The Milliner’s Daughter is her first retrospective exhibition at a public institution. Spread over two floors, and taking up all three of the large rooms in the gallery, the show was extensive, with hundreds of fascinating objects grouped into six themed motifs. The antique manikins were originally used by artists.

The staging and lighting were fantastic. The separate spaces were divided by heavy velvet curtains that you had to find your way through. Except for the sounds that were part of the show, there was a hush throughout the place, causing everyone to whisper.

^ There was a soundscape of the tinkling piano in this room, as though it was coming from this miniature antique treasure. ^

Moving to the other areas …

^ This one was holding a real burning candle. ^

^ Puss in Boots. Wondering how big this piece is? ^

^ Putting it in perspective. ^

^ While this vintage toy would fit in the palm of your hand. ^

Granted, that is a lot of pictures, but there was a lot more that I’ve not shown (mainly because my shots didn’t turn out well), including a full sized vintage car that intermittently “grew” wings, and a gigantic bike bell.

We caught The Milliner’s Daughter during its final hours, and I must say, my “foamo” has been in high gear since — that is, my “fear of almost missing out”. I’m really glad to have experienced this stunning installation.

In fact, I felt so lucky to have seen it, (free of charges, as all shows at The Power Plant are thanks to sponsorship by BMO), that afterwards I had a strong urge to go along the boardwalk telling people to go in and check it out! While it was perhaps the source of nightmares for young children, it was something that almost everyone else would have found interesting.

^ We met this guy … ^

^ … leading to a second time that I need to include an additional photo for scale! ^

^ The Harbourfront Hot and Spicy Food Festival was on and we’d originally planned to get something to eat there, but although there was a fun atmosphere and the food looked good, we changed our minds, as it was really busy, with long line-ups to get tickets for food, which you then had to line up again to use. Torontonians clearly like their spicy food! ^

^ We decided to try a place we’d passed on our walk over instead, so retraced our steps to get to Macho. We were glad we did, because it was just right, with excellent service, a lovely outdoor patio, and good food. ^

^ We shared a bean, corn and avocado salad. The second photo should be of the other dish we had, fajitas. It seems I was too busy enjoying them to take a picture! ^

The restaurant is just east of the entry to The Puente de Luz Bridge, which took us over the train tracks.

^ Not to be confusing, this is looking back towards the south. ^

^ In closing, here’s one of my pal on the way home, looking cute and happy in spite of what had been a whole lot of walking! ^

Thanks for reading,
xo loulou

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