Transit systems

The public transit system in Toronto is crap pretty rubbish. The city is so geared towards the use of a car, in pure North American style, that very little has been invested in public transit since the 1960s. Oddly enough, it still has a fully-functioning streetcar system… whose tracks need to be repaired every couple of years or so. The subway was clearly designed by someone with serious mental issues:

A “U”? And a “T” that crosses over it? Seriously? Traffic is horrendous downtown because of the streetcar and because EVERYBODY HAS A CAR. One would think that the current mayor would try to… I don’t know… just a suggestion… perhaps welcome cyclists? Yes, one could think that, and be a fool because the current mayor of Toronto is a gentlemen who really does not like cyclists AT ALL:

I wish he learnt from Jaime Lerner, the mayor who¬†revolutionised transport in his hometown of Curibita (Brazil), by diverting traffic around the centre. Huge pedestrian areas and parks have replaced busy roads and congestion has been tackled with an efficient bus service. This 15 minute long video kind of sums it up… and makes me want to move to Curibita:

Not Curibita, but almost, is London, where I lived for over 4 years and embraced its excellent transit system. It works so well that having a car in the city is a hassle more than a necessity. Plus, the posters created to advertise public transit in London have been brilliant from the get-go, like this one designed by Alfred Leete in 1919:

Naturally, the classic London bus had to make it to one of my bowls ūüėČ

Cabbagetown

I once attended a lecture where they stated that the west ends of cities had the most beautiful architecture as it was where the wealthy lived – apparently it has something to do with the wind. However, in the proper east end of Toronto is Cabbagetown.

Referred to by the New York Times as the highest concentration of Victorian houses in North America, Cabbagetown is simply magnificent. I have not been near a pencil, marker pen or brush for a week and a half and the quality of my sketch is rather poor I’m afraid, but I hope the pictures below show a glimpse of this beautiful neighbourhood in Toronto.

Trampoline Hall

Mondays are usually very nondescript, first day of the working week (ergh), and still a full 4 days to go until the weekend. However, once a month, on the first Monday of each month to be precise, Mondays are AWESOME. Why? Because it’s Trampoline Hall night!

Trampoline Hall Lectures take place at the Garrison. The night comprises three lectures: the rule is the lectures can be on anything as long as the speakers are not professionals on the subject. After each lecture there’s a Q&A and the whole event is hosted by¬†Misha Glouberman, who is just downright brilliant. Elizabeth Barret-Browning, How To Be An Arsehole, Artistic Temperament or Forgetting Important Things are just a few of the random lectures I’ve attended.

Each lecture series is curated by a different person who, not only chooses the 3 lectures for the night, but is also responsible for the design of Trampoline Hall’s homepage and the tickets. Below is just a selection of how different they can be. Next series is in early July and you will definitely find me there!

Weekend in sketches

Good weather makes weekends seem just like paradise. I had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night. The menu consisted of Jamie Oliver’s delicious baked mushrooms stuffed with ricotta (I used basil leaves instead of oregano, so good), with some rucola with a lemon dressing and Northern Spain paella (plenty of meat and no seafood). From a neighbourhood perspective, I was stuck in Parkdale:

Yesterday was glorious, and in order to make the most of the weather, my friends went to the Islands to spend the day:

I pottered around, watched Nadal beat Federer, and after having brunch at the waterfront, I spent part of the afternoon at Trinity Bellwoods. It’s a lovely park on Queen West:

These are the new sketches of Toronto neighbourhoods that I’ve been working on. Obviously still sketches – I mean, TRINIYT?! I was obviously VERY distracted when I was working on my lettering…! I still have to work on the composition, select which buildings/houses are more representative of each neighbourhood and obviously, TRY to make it as centered and straight as possible – particularly the lettering. But it’s a project I’m really enjoying as it makes me get on my bike, explore some wonderful areas of this city and then, once at home, ¬†draw them out rather quickly with my big fat marker pen on the biggest sketch pad known to man.

Home

Over the past 7 years¬†I have¬†lived in 10 different¬†houses¬†in 3¬†countries. However only a handful of them have felt like home. Home now is Toronto, Parkdale to be precise. What makes my current address so special is the fact that for the very first time in my life I am living by myself and was able to decorate the place as I wished. I’m renting¬† one of the attic apartments in this gorgeous turn-of-the-century house.

The neighbourhood is amazing, great local shops, friendly people, creativity in the air, park¬†and lake nearby, seriously, this place has it all. Actually, I’ll take it a notch higher, this is probably the BEST neighbourhood where I have lived.

Never have I been so inspired to draw the building where I live – until now…

Living in a creative valhalla

Hello hello,

First post ever in this blog and, naturally, I am somewhat nervousanxiousexcitedallinone!

Why a creative valhalla, might you ask? Well, I was brought up in a house of artists and creativity has flowed in our blood for generations. Growing up we all inspired each other to unleash the creative within, to paint, draw, sew, knit, crochet, cook, make jewellery, and a long list of etceteras. No matter the city where we lived, our house always seemed to have a pot of creative juices bubbling away. When I finally left home I was never able to re-create that ambience. Sure there is email, phone, and skype, and we still today even talk and get all excited about what it is that we want to make/create/eat, but I have come to realise that the city where you live and the community around you is of utmost importance.

I moved to Toronto in October 2010¬†and to my surprise, this city, and Canada as a whole,¬†have turned into my creative valhalla. The¬†amazing creative community and wonderful people here, not to mention art supply shops, craft markets and an overwhelming feeling that, whatever you do is unique and should make you¬†proud, have made me feel at home. How long will I stay here? I haven’t the slightest idea, but I hope to document on this blog what it is that inspires me and how my work is affected by it.

Welcome!