Art Installation–

Welcome to Union Holiday – Presented by TD!

Union is committed to reflecting the diversity of Canadians in all its programs and operations. Our year-round public arts and cultural programming celebrate creativity, diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to strengthen the connection between public art and civic engagement. We strive to create connectedness amongst communities, support innovation and collaborate with artists and cultural organizations throughout the GTA.

Union gratefully acknowledge the land where we work and live, known as Tkaronto. We honour the stewardship, past, present and future, of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe, and the Mississauga’s of the Credit First Nation. Tkaronto is in the Dish with One Spoon Territory. The Dish with One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississauga’s and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community on this territory.

Inspired by Canadians’ appreciation for the outdoors, Union Station is bringing an outdoor winter landscape to the heart of Toronto. Union Holiday—Presented by TD is an outdoor winter installation that combines the joy of the Holiday season with the beauty of our natural, Canadian winter landscapes. We hope visitors will be transported to another world as they journey along a large, undulating sculptural wall that draws inspiration from naturally occurring ice forms and experience the magic of the holidays through our beautiful tree.

About the wall–

The idea of the ice wall was conceived by the Programming + Special Events team to create a new special experience for people as they pass through Union Station. Our creative journey started through the discovery of man-made ice castle experiences around Europe and North America. We felt that they combined the beauty of natural elements with the magic of a special and unique experience. Through conceptual development, our team gravitated towards a more sculptural approach that would imitate several naturally occurring ice forms.

The first section was inspired by icebergs and the cliffs of ice floes which are more monumental in terms of size and scale – focusing on larger features to mimic the sculptural mass of these formations...

The second section is a transitional zone between the cliffs and the waterfall. The more massive shapes in the cliff section break down into smaller pieces as you travel along the wall.

The central section is inspired by the Midland Ice Caves in New Brunswick where the waterfalls naturally freezes over a cave opening each year. The different layers play wonderfully with the light and providing an interesting feature piece on the wall.

The inspiration for the next section came from our research into ice caves. We wanted to explore an experience “beneath the surface” that played with new textures and that would help us transition into the final section.

The last section is a fun “frozen in time” experience. As this part of the wall surrounds the existing sculpture on the plaza, we relish the idea of it appearing as though it’s frozen in the ice.

Overall, the experience transports the visitor to a new landscape taking them on a journey that plays with scale – starting with the monumental forms and then slowly zero-ing in on different textures and forms until we get the simple block of ice.

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Sound and Light Design–

To elevate the sculptural experience, the Union team has integrated the use of sound and light during both the day and at night. The wall has a base daytime and a base nighttime lighting state to help create depth and movement to the wall. We also wanted to add an extra layer to the experience and provide a way for the sculpture to come to life periodically through the animation of mini sound and light shows. Our team has conceptualized three different shows on rotation throughout the day and three separate evening shows which occur approximately every ten minutes.

Our goal for the shows was to focus on both the natural arctic landscape as well as a more traditional holiday approach...

They daytime shows are playful in nature, drawing on our imaginations and sense of wonderment that often accompanies this time of year – especially for children. The first daytime show is a playful take on the ever so beautiful Aurora Borealis. Our sound designer has created a landscape of sound that incorporates music and the natural sounds of wind and whales to creatively imagine a sound for the northern lights. The second daytime show was inspired by the holiday classics to get you in the holiday spirit with familiar jingles. The third daytime show imagines a magical winter wonderland, taking us on a child-like journey of imagination.

The evening shows are more dramatic in nature. The first evening show was again inspired by the Aurora Borealis but explores the legend that by whistling at the northern lights, you may invite them and interact with them. This piece incorporates an element of call and response as the whistle and the aurora interact with one another. The second evening holiday show captures the fun and the energy of the classic “Sugar Plum Fairy” dance. For the final evening show we inspired by an Indigenous Canadian artist Bryden Gwiss Mackenzie and resonated with his original song “Keeping it Hopping” which features in this piece.

To help us realize our vision for these shows, we reached out to our trusted friends in the theatre world who had expertise in sound and lighting design. These designers have many years of experience in theatrical design and we collaboratively brought this project to life.

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Special Thanks and Creative Bios–

This project could not have been possible without the magic and assistance of the following consultants:

Music Credits–