18″ x 18″ x 31″
Cotton, linen, wool, wood
Exhibitions: Generation, Craft Ontario Gallery, January 14 – February 25, 2023
Part of the Design TO Festival, January 20-29, 2023.
I would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council for the production and exhibition of this work.
In the 1960s my paternal grandfather became the principal designer and shop manager for a successful furniture company in Toronto called Brunswick Manufacturing. For the following two decades, they supplied locally made, well-built institutional furniture to universities, community centres, and hospitals throughout the GTA.
In my home I have six chairs built by Brunswick Manufacturing that are covered in their original fabric — each of my grandfather’s children got a matching set of chairs, and I have my father’s set. I have designed, sampled, and hand woven yardage to reupholster these chairs. The original fabric is plain, brown, and synthetic — very representative of the late 1970s when they were made. The new textile covering for each chair takes its cues from the coloured light in shadows, and is made from natural fibres and padded with local wool felt.
My grandfather died before I was born, but his material influence has always been a part of my life, through the family cottage he designed and built, and in the countless chairs, tables, and furniture I have lived with, slept on, and used in my day to day. I’ve always taken this material landscape for granted while knowing very little about the maker.
Ultimately, this work aims to contribute to a conversation about Toronto’s small-scale industries, institutional furniture, and craft history. Through this work, I hope to connect with and identify items of Brunswick manufacturing that people know through offices, classrooms, and boardrooms, creating a conversation about the crafted environment of our institutional spaces.
Exhibition photography by Jocelyn Reynolds/Craft Ontario.