Graffiti Works 1989-2008
Exhibition Project - EvergreenBrick Works
Graffiti - urban art or blatant vandalism?
Part of my Masters of Museum Studies degree is an Exhibition Project at the Evergreen Brick Works that looks at their on-site graffiti as an historical artefact. This was developed with fellow student Shannon Todd.
Heritage storytelling takes inspiration from many sources. Traditionally, museums weave a narrative from real objects; a vase, a coat, a building or historic site. At the Evergreen Brick Works heritage engagement is inspired by the industrial, natural and geographical landscape. Industrial heritage at the Evergreen Brick Works however goes beyond an exploration of the narratives rooted in the initial intended use of the brick making machinery on the site. The graffiti that is everywhere on the site is also part of the story.
Founded in the 1890’s the Don Valley Brick Works produced bricks that helped to build Toronto. Old City Hall and Massey Hall are built from bricks made at this site. In 1989 the brick makers abandoned the facility. The kilns that fired the bricks were built in 1957 and needed to be upgraded and the natural resources necessary for brick production were all tapped out. This abandoned industrial site then slowly transformed - it became a place for illicit activities – particularly by area youth. These activities included raves, parties and even the occasional pig roast. And the walls of the vacant buildings became a blank canvas for local and international graffiti artists.
A central tenet of urban renewal is the idea of the adaptive reuse of older buildings. Between 1989 and 2008 the Don Valley Brick Works was adaptively reused. The evidence of this chapter in the evolving history of the site is still clearly visible. There is graffiti everywhere at the Evergreen Brick Works. It was purposefully left in place during the re-development of the site though all material that could be considered offensive was removed.
This exhibition features an introductory graffiti primer for the uninitiated and a self-guided exploratory walking tour of the on-site graffiti. This interpretative pilot project will begin to tell the full history of these “lost” years.
Urban art or vandalism? Come and decide for yourself. Whether you see graffiti as art or vandalism I think you will agree that it is definitely part of the vibrant and diverse heritage of the site.
Click here for an article I wrote about this exhibition in
the Ontario Heritage Trust publication Heritage Matters - http://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/CorporateSite/media/oht/PDFs/HM-Feb-2013-ENG.pdf
DROP BY THE EVERGREEN BRICK WORKS AND HAVE A LOOK.
Graffiti Works Exhibition 1989-2008 currently on display at
the Evergreen Brick Works.
Photo credit - Bruce Beaton
Graffiti by Nektar at the Evergreen Brick Works.
Photo credit- Bruce Beaton