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Street artist Phlegm creates eight-storey mural in Toronto as public art meets placemaking

A city is really just a mark left by all those billions of people that added to it and made it what it is
– Phlegm

Renowned street artist Phlegm has created an eight-storey mural in Toronto as part of a giant revitalisation project bringing art to the city’s busiest intersections.

The enormous untitled artwork was created by Phlegm over the course of a month-long residency at the midtown Yonge and St. Clair junction, which saw him dramatically suspended 12-storeys in the air outside the 1 St. Clair West building.

Small images of the cityscape were put together to form the mural of one large human form, embracing itself. This means passers-by have a different perspective on the piece depending on where they see it from. According to Phlegm, the work is a metaphor for the living, breathing nature of the city.

“I chose to work with the human form because it’s really what a city is,” he said. “A city is really just a mark left by all those billions of people that added to it and made it what it is.”

Inspired by the communities that make up the neighbourhood, the design was informed by a series of local consultations.

Yonge and St. Clair is set to undergo an explosion of rapid change, with unified public realm improvements, new shops, bars and restaurants, and architectural facelifts of the surrounding buildings.

Lucas Manuel, managing director of asset management company Slate, which oversaw the project, said: “Public art plays a vital role in placemaking. We plan to be here a long time, and we’re invested in seeing this community thrive. Part of that is creating spaces that engage people and invite them to pause and consider their surroundings. The mural builds a place for the community to congregate around, while being a visual anchor that brings a more cohesive vision to the neighbourhood.

“This area has a rich cultural history but has been overlooked for decades. Torontonians currently view it as a sleepy 9-to-5 work hub. We’re re-imagining it as a vibrant, bustling 24/7 live-work-play community.”

Public arts organisation the STEPS Initiative and the city’s StreetARToronto programme collaborated on the Phlegm project, and are working with Slate to revitalise more of Toronto through art.

“This was such an overwhelmingly positive experience that we are searching for other opportunities within our portfolio,” said Manuel. “There aren’t many canvases as large as this, but there are other ways to incorporate public art into otherwise ordinary surroundings.”

Earlier this year artistic collective Blue Republic were selected to create a pair of 15ft (4.5m) alien characters for a placemaking installation at a new residential development on Toronto’s Redpath Street following a public design competition.

Street art  Phlegm  Toronto  Canada  design  architecture  Slate  Yonge and St Clair 
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Renowned street artist Phlegm has created an eight-storey mural in Toronto as part of a giant revitalisation project bringing art to the city’s busiest intersections. The enormous untitled artwork was created by Phlegm over the course of a month-long residency at the midtown Yonge and St. Clair junction, which saw him dramatically suspended 12-storeys in the air outside the 1 St. Clair West building. Small images of the cityscape were
CLD,AAC,ARC,DES,PHR
Phlegm's mural is a metaphor for how the residents of Toronto have shaped the city / Ben Rahn
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