Artmap project have artists paint their communities in the shape of their ward

Art and Scarborough aren’t two words that usually go together, but Scarborough artists are putting their communities on the map — literally.

Artmap is a collaborative project commissioned by the Manifesto Festival of Community & Culture, in which artists were given a piece of wood shaped in one of Toronto’s 44 wards and asked to design something on it that represented their neighbourhood.

The ward pieces were then reassembled in a map of Toronto and unveiled on Sept. 17 at City Hall. After, they’ll be given to the councillors to be displayed in their offices.

Ward 38, Scarborough Centre was designed by Tara Bursey who went to Churchill Heights P.S. Bursey chose to draw faces of children from her fifth and sixth grade class between 1991-1993.

“An interesting fact I learned in researching Ward 38 is that 1991 marked the first year of a period of 9 years in which the ward’s immigrant population doubled.  It was a really huge stroke of luck that the photos I had access to were my school photos from these years, so my original concept to attempt to depict a defining time for Ward 38 in terms of diversity and change fell into place perfectly,” Bursey said.

Ward 43, Scarborough East was designed by Lindsay Bess who grew up in the area and says that it is not deserving of its bad reputation of drugs, gangs and guns.

“There’s incredible diversity here. People don’t think of Scarborough as an artistic place, but there’s a lot of creativity. Art is internal. It’s in the people.”

Bess’ piece depicts the ambiguities of the community, its geographical space of highrise buildings against the backdrop of the bluffs and across the piece are the lyrics “I want to see my people living in love” from the musician I Wayne. While there are issues that affect the area, people living there are always trying to make it better and that’s what makes the place so beautiful, she said.

Scarborough isn’t done surprising us yet. Yes, there is even art in Scarborough.