Beltline sculpture revives Iron Horses after 23 years

Original Iron Horse sculpture recreated as a permanent public art project

The Iron Horse 2019 on the Kay Gardner Beltline Park belt-line.
The Iron Horse 2019 on the Kay Gardner Beltline Park Belt-line from below in Davisville on Nov. 30. Matthew McCarthy/Toronto Observer

For 23 years, 12 iron horses that make up a sculpture have been clopping in the distance, lost. However, they’ve made a grand return as Iron Horse 2019.

After all these years, these 12 items that make up The Iron Horse sculpture on the Kay Gardner Beltline Park in Davisville have been recreated.

One of the Iron Horses of Iron 2019 on the Kay Gardner Beltline Park belt-line.
One of the 12 sculptures of Iron Horse 2019 on the Kay Gardner Beltline Park belt-line in Davisville on Nov. 30. The sculptures, despite their name, are made of fibreglass.

On Nov. 30, the permanent public arts project, Iron Horse 2019, was unveiled to the public in the morning at 11 a.m., with several speeches half an hour earlier. 

Policemen also made an appearance, riding horses onto the bridge right before the speeches began.

The speakers were Ward 12 councillor Josh Matlow, Toronto mayor John Tory, artist Robert Sprachman; and Rick Baker, owner of Plastiglas, who manufactured the sculptures.

The speeches delved into the background of the original Iron Horse, their own experiences with the project, and future plans to come.

“In future years, you will see an extension of this project, along with Robert’s remarkable work of…the Iron Horse 2019,” Matlow said in this speech. “I think we can very clearly call this a success, of this beautiful beautiful work.”

A Twitter thread of the Iron Horse 2019 event live.

“The horses for me have … a place.” Baker said. “Some of them are looking to the past, remembering when they were our only and primary means of transportation. Some of them to the present to see what’s going on. Some of them are looking to the future wondering what’s next. But like any fine community, I think they’re standing, looking out for one another.”

The Iron Horse was first installed back in 1994 on the same bridge. The sculpture was meant to be placed for six months, but due to popularity, the sculpture stayed in place for two years before being sold by Sprachman. 

Three of the Iron Horses ended up in Windfields Middle School in North York. Another is owned by Sprachman. The other two thirds of The Iron Horse have unknown whereabouts.

In 2018, Matlow, Midtown Yonge Business Improvement Area, and the City of Toronto joined in a partnership to bring the Iron Horse back. 

This is the beginning of what appears to be many public arts projects, according to Tory.

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Posted: Dec 4 2019 11:49 am
Filed under: Community News