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Artful Harbourfront

Free outdoor exhibitions pop up by the water at Harbourfront Centre for art lovers to enjoy this summer. Here are six must-sees.

Amanda McCavour. Spirals, Loops and Circles

Amanda McCavour. Spirals, Loops and Circles, 2021. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

Cool off this summer by the water while enjoying an art walk along the Harbourfront in downtown Toronto. Those who have visited the destination recently may have noticed pops of colour and several large-scale outdoor art installations. Ranging from striking portraits to a colourful floor mural, here’s the AGOInsider’s list of six must-see current exhibitions on view now at Harbourfront Centre:


Figure as Index 

Luther Konadu. Figure as Index

Luther Konadu. Figure as Index, 2021. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

As part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Winnipeg-based artist and writer Luther Konadu’s large-scale photography installation Figure as Index can be found on Harbourfront Centre’s Parking Pavilion until September 6. An ongoing project since 2015, it is an intimate collection of portraits featuring Konadu’s close family of friends. The large-scale photos are made up of re-photographed images and casual taping; purposefully showing fragmented images of the artist’s diasporic community. Konadu chose this method to portray his community as one that is always in flux and changing. He also wrote an essay that focuses on the concept of community and his approach to portraiture. To read the essay and to learn more about this documentary piece, click here


Spirals, Loops and Circles 

Amanda McCavour. Spirals, Loops and Circles

Amanda McCavour. Spirals, Loops and Circles, 2021. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

When strolling what once was Harbourfront Centre’s pond, you will notice its colourful transformation by Toronto artist Amanda McCavour. Commissioned by the Harbourfront Centre, the new space invites passersby to take a seat and enjoy the view with vibrant art right under their feet. Inspired by Spirographs, McCavour thought back to her childhood drawing toy as a design guide for this floor mural. The installation will be up until September 1. 


Between the Start of Things and the End of Things III

Meryl McMaster. Between the Start of Things and the End of Things III

Meryl McMaster. Between the Start of Things and the End of Things III, 2019. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

Along the Main Entrance to Harbourfront Centre’s underground parking, visitors will find a large installation of Between the Start of Things and the End of Things III by artist Meryl McMaster, a work from her photography series As Immense as the Sky (2019). She draws on her heritage and explores how ancestral stories are written into the natural landscape by the people who once lived there and those who still do. The photographs in this series were captured across ancestral sites in Saskatchewan and early settlements in Ontario and Newfoundland. Through her self-portraits, she retells and interprets patrimonial stories from relatives and community knowledge-keepers. From the rising generation of Indigenous artists in Canada and based in Ottawa, McMaster is of nêhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry. On view until summer of 2022. 




Joi T. Arcand. "THE ONLY TONGUE IN VOGUE", 2020. Site-specific installation, Harbourfront Centre. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

Created by Joi T. Arcand, Harbourfront Centre’s 2019-2020 Visual Artist in Residence, the text “THE ONLY TONGUE IN VOGUE” is displayed on the windows facing Ontario Square. On view until September 15, the quote has been pulled from history, helping us envision a future where Indigenous languages are once again “in vogue” on Indigenous land. Nēhiyawēwin (the Plains Cree language) was the main language spoken throughout the old trade routes of what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. To communicate, trade and survive, white explorers and traders had to hire translators or learn the language. Although the quote was written during a time when colonialism was well underway, through an Indigenous lens the words give a glimpse into a different time and a possible future. To learn more about artist Joi T. Arcand, click here


Bursting with Love 

Natalie King. Bursting with Love

Natalie King. Bursting with Love (detail), 2021. Acrylic and ink on canvas with ribbon. Image courtesy of the artist.

Facing onto Ontario Square in the Big Vitrine lies Bursting with Love, a mixed media work by artist Natalie King. Installed until September 12, it explores themes of space, time, queerness and spirit. King reimagined Anishinaabe creation story motifs and collective conversations with ancestors, then blended them with queer femme aesthetics to create this piece. The ribbons reference the traditional ribbon skirt – a powerful symbol of surviving cultural genocide – and bright colours are used to represent the ancient histories of queerness that were once, and still are, integral to First Nations peoples pre-colonization. 



Hyunjung Lee. Harmony

Hyunjung Lee. Harmony, 2021. Photo credit: Brian Medina.

Walking past Artport Gallery at the Craft & Design Studio Windows, passersby will spot Harmony by artist Hyunjung Lee. Inspired by the Matière Studies method (material investigations, the Bauhaus), Lee creates emotional responses by exploring relationships between motifs, rhythm, structure. During the pandemic, Lee found equilibrium by immersing herself in the repetitive process of block printing, building a visual tempo through imagery. She wishes to translate calm and harmony to the viewer, a meditation conveying feelings of peace and comfort. On view until September 12. 

For full details about all current exhibitions at Harbourfront Centre, visit

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