How Liberty Village’s Abandoned Silos are Being Re-Designed into Art

A silo mural in progress behind old Canada Bread factory. Photo by Lauren O'Neil. Courtesy of BlogTO.

The industrial silos in Liberty Village and the surrounding area are about to get a pretty significant re-design. The handful of silos and smokestacks that held proudly in the neighborhood’s skyline are now defunct and do not serve much purpose in the ever-developing area.

Even as Toronto has continued to build upwards, the structures do not display their height as impressively as they once did. Now that billboards and condo developments exist along the Gardiner, these silos are far from being as delightful to look at as they once were. This in the process of changing however!

Throughout the month of October, street artists have been working on re-developing four industrial silos and two hoppers along the South Liberty Trail. Each of these abandoned industrial icons are being used as canvases for a large-scale public art initiative in conjunction with StreetARToronto Partnership Program.

Four professional mural artists have been selected to work on Liberty Village’s abandoned silos. Encouraged to be bold, colorful, and inspiring, the designs are set to reference local characters, stories, and history.

A silo at the base of Fraser Avenue got its first coat of red paint Thursday evening as office workers fled the village and residents returned home. Photo by Lauren O’Neil. Courtesy of BlogTO.

The company currently overseeing this project and these abandoned silos is Mural Routes, the only member-based not-for-profit arts service organization in Canada. The four Canadian mural artists who have been chosen to apply their talent to this project are Alexander Bacon, birdO, Emmanuel Jarus, and Troy Lovegates. Their efforts are also being supported by York Heritage Properties which owns the structures themselves and local architects seeking to create art that is both inventive but also that does not take away from these structures’ industrial roots. The general theme, as described in the original artist call posted last March, was to create “new ideas in old buildings.”

If you have noticed people set up precariously high working around the abandoned silos of Liberty Village in the last couple weeks, this is why. The old silo behind Canada Bread has received much attention for its re-design and the other structures are beginning to come together as well.

To browse the silos being worked on, they are located along the southernmost edge of the neighborhood. Take a walk down to the south end of Dufferin and hitch a path towards the Exhibition GO station at the south end of Atlantic Avenue.

An old grain silo in Liberty Village will soon be public art. Preliminary work indicates that it may feature a cat. Photo by Lauren O’Neil. Courtesy of BlogTO.

This is big news for Liberty Village and marks the first silo mural project in all of Toronto. These new public art pieces are expected to be visible from the Gardiner post-October. As the Distillery District, a very similarly industrial-driven neighborhood, has found its identity in a re-design, Liberty Village’s continued commitment to art and design has given it its own unique charm. This silo mural project is another example of that identity in development. Though some may end up preferring the South Liberty Trail the way it used to be with these 40-foot tall silos being representative of yesteryear’s working classes and industrial entrepreneurship, the vibrancy being added to it are going to brighten up the west end in a positive way for commuters.

Robert Eisenberg of York Heritage Properties had this to say on the project: “The silo murals will be iconic artworks that are innovative and edgy, adding to the enjoyment of the people living and working in Liberty Village by assisting with wayfinding and creating a unique sense of place. Following the theme of “new ideas in old buildings” the murals on the silos interpret the history of the location as well as the ambition of the neighbourhood.”

Anyone who has already caught a glimpse of these monstrous artworks are encouraged to share them on social media using the hashtag #SLTMurals. An announcement is expected soon on the official unveiling expected to happen towards the project’s end.

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