1 Spadina Crescent
There is a room, around 12 by 20 feet, 15-foot ceilings, well-worn hardwood floors. Four hanging receptacles house fluorescent lighting but I never turn them on; the 2 south facing windows provide just enough light. Three doors connect it to 3 different hallways. One door has a removable wooden panel; perhaps it once acted as an information window, now closed.
The room is painted a very pale tint of celery green.
But once it was a rich deep cerulean blue.
When I first encountered this room, I used it to mount a small exhibition of my paintings for a critique. In several places, the pale green paint had cracked and lifted, revealing the vibrant blue-stained plaster beyond the surface.
Over decades, moisture has seeped from the rooftop, downwards, between plaster and lathe and flooring, following any available opening, making its way to the east wall of this room.
After the critique, I peeled away the most obvious loose curls of paint, revealing dagger-like shapes of brilliant blue, like sky through tree. I became aware that the whole surface, from baseboard to ceiling was covered with cracks. So I found the highest ladder in the building, a metal scraper and some goggles and set to picking off all the loose paint. Only the paint that was easily dislodged was removed; overly vigorous scraping would remove too much of the delicate tracery being revealed.
Surface tension results in a very consistent patterning. This looks like mud flats, river beds, wrinkle patterns in skin, mysterious text, mathematical equations.
This work is a collaboration between the architecture, the passage of time, water, gravity, the painters, the paint, and me.
My job was to complete it.
Postscript: in the days following the “completion” of the work, it was very warm and humid…and the paint began to lift at the edges of the peeled areas. This is ongoing, and theoretically it will only end when all of the topcoat is removed or yet another skin of paint is added: transient intransigence.