• Artist Watch: Michael Christian Sculptures in Toronto

    by  • July 7, 2012 • Artists to Watch, Blog, Photos • 3 Comments

    We recently visited the Distillery District in Toronto, a collection of restaurants, bakeries, and shops housed in the historic brick buildings of the old Gooderham and Worts Distillery.

    First, I have to say the Distillery District is awesome. Its cross between historic and modern gives it a great atmosphere and lots of character. I love exploring neighborhoods with interesting historic buildings, so exploring the Distillery District was a double plus since I got to do that in addition to exploring awesome food finds and appreciating the more modern artistic additions to the area.

    The most notable of these modern additions are the sculptures of Michael Christian. Upon entering the Distillery District, we were greeted by a sculpture of a giant creature that looked like something out of the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth. After walking a bit further, a giant spider-like creature towered over us, looking like something out of John Christopher’s books, The Tripods Trilogy. It was surreal seeing such futuristic and gigantic monster-like sculptures in the middle of a bunch of historic buildings and shops, and it was a very memorable introduction to the Distillery District. So memorable, in fact, that I looked up the sculptures when I got home to figure out who created them.

    Originally created for the Burning Man festival in Nevada, the sculptures are now on loan to the Distillery District for a limited time. As for how long, the only reference I’ve been able to find is a 2009 article stating that the sculptures would be on loan for 3 years.¹ Perhaps that period has been extended, but if not, this year might be the last opportunity to see these sculptures in Toronto.


    Standing 14 feet tall, Koilos is made of 2,000 pounds of steel with a surface that makes you think of jumbled puzzle pieces on first glance.¹


    Standing 40 feet tall, I.T. is made of 10,000 pounds of steel.¹ It turns out my first impression of I.T. wasn’t too far off, as the sculpture was actually inspired by H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds

    Successful House Plants

    I actually didn’t see any articles mentioning this sculpture, but while browsing through Michael Christian’s website I happened to recognize it in the photos of his large creations. It reminds me of a bundle of grapes growing from the tip upward, or of the cluster of balloons that lift the house in the movie, Up.

    If you’d like to see more of Michael Christian’s works, you can visit his website. If you’d like to discover more artists, check out my running list of artists to watch.

    ¹ Silverberg, David, “Sculptor Brings His Alien Creations to Toronto’s Distillery,” Digital Journal, May 23, 2009, accessed July 7, 2012, http://digitaljournal.com/article/272968.
    ² Penders, Carl Francis, “The Distillery District: Where Toronto Lives, Works, and Plays,” Times Union, February 6, 2011, accessed July 7, 2012, http://www.timesunion.com/living/article/The-Distillery-District-Where-Toronto-lives-998981.php.