FRIDAY, SEPT.14th, 2012 @ WAHC 7:30PM -10PM

WAHC’s year- long exploration of growing up in working class cities or families concludes with the first ever career survey of art and urban research collective Broken City Lab.

Recently long listed for the Sobey Art Award, Broken City Lab’s four years of community engaged interventions across Canada have garnered critical praise, invigorated communities and raised fundamental questions regarding people’s relationships to public and private space within the urban environment, the institutions that define it, our agency as city dwellers within the contemporary urban milieu and the role of the arts and artists in shaping how we experience or engage with these environments.

Based in the industrial centre of Windsor, Ontario, the collective’s work has often deployed their hometown as source of inspiration, testing laboratory and a stand in for the hundreds of other communities across the country seeking to redefine their identities in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

This exhibition explores the group’s relationship to Windsor through revisiting their earliest works and illustrating how those works have shaped and defined their undertakings in communities across the country.

About the Artists

Broken City Lab is an artist-led interdisciplinary creative research group that tactically disrupts and engages the city, its communities, and its infrastructures to reimagine the potential for action in the collapsing post-industrial city of Windsor, Ontario.

The processes of Broken City Lab remain grounded in the lab’s observations and concerns about Windsor, as a city, as a community, and as a network of infrastructure, and aim to do two things: first, Broken City Lab works through interventionist tactics to adjust, critique, annotate, and re-imagine the city that we encounter; secondly, through these interventions, the lab seeks to educate, inspire, and facilitate a new way of viewing the potential for interacting with and in the city.

Broken City Lab’s creative activity is rooted in community-based social practice, where the lab attempts to generate a new dialogue surrounding public participation and community engagement in the creative process, with a focus on the city as both a research site and workspace.

This exhibition is supported by the Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance Grant.


Also on September 14 & 15 in Hamilton:

Broken City Catalogue Launch – Friday Sept 14 and Sat Sept 15th, 7-11 pm, in the foyer of Hamilton Artists Inc. including distribution of fibre-based works from the installation on the Cannon St Wall.
Curated by Julie Rene de Cotret.

Letter Library Card & Stamp Test, Example, etc.

From yesterday afternoon — testing the stamp that Rosina set up and the cards we just got back from the printers.

We also got a fun package from Hamilton Artist Inc. that included some of the “questionnaires” we did from the last art crawl.

These will eventually make their way into our forthcoming publication.

Detail, stamp test.

Yesterday afternoon, Kevin and I tackled painting the letters, while Hiba cut some more. Into the evening, news came that Kevin had finished cutting all the letters!

Make sure you pick some of these up on Thursday, ok?

Two Tales of a City opens in Hamilton!

As February wrapped up, we prepared our bunting and banner components to be shipped up to Hamilton for the install. Sara and I went to Canadian Tire to buy Scotch Guard to weather-seal and water-proof the work.

We bought two different kinds, both sealed the fabric adequately after setting to dry for a few hours.

Next, we stopped off at Jodi‘s studio in The House to help her finish cutting and sewing the rest of the Helvetica text letters.

The letters are black with a backing and a layer of Heat N Bond Ultra adhesive in between, for mass and stiffness.

Jodi had mentioned that she was fortunate her surger hadn’t had any problems throughout the project. Shortly thereafter, a needle bent and we had to switch to her other machine to complete the remaining letters.

Once all materials were in one place, we counted, folded, and packaged everything up to fit neatly in this tiny little box. (Amazing!) This was sent off earlier on in the week to Hamilton Artist’s Inc so that Julie could start the install before we arrived on the 9th.

Once in Hamilton on March 9th, we headed to Hamilton Artist’s Inc to check out how the install was going. The bunting looked awesome on the front of the building!

Another shot from James Street.

Pieces of this bunting will be distributed to various individuals and organizations in the final stages of the project.

The banner along Cannon Street, an unforseen frosty wind tunnel, wasn’t fully installed yet. We helped Julie measure and install for a few hours.

The install was a lot more slow-moving than expected, mainly due to the wind.  We were able to get a few letters up before heading over to the Farmer’s Market to set up for the workshop.

This space, called the Community Kitchen, is for rent by the hour in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market.

A white board wall? Pretty awesome. Wish we had one of these on hand at all times!

The workshop began with a discussion about headline stories that the rest of the country hears about Hamilton, then we started talking about the local stories, both published and passed on orally, specific to the city and city residents.

We ran the workshop in both French and English, as we had both French and English speaking people in attendance. Julie was on-hand to help translate. I wrote attendee’s comments and answers  on board-meeting-sized sheets of paper lined up on the wall.

We then moved the conversation toward places in Hamilton, favourite places, places you avoid, places you go to speak/hear french.

Julie helped out with writing when a lot of good things were being said and I couldn’t keep up!

Everyone had a lot of good insights, as most were originally from Hamilton, or just generally curious and good observers of their city surroundings.

Stories of development for buildings previously sitting vacant in the downtown core, tales of infrastructures designed to keep people moving, failed and forgotten industries, rumours of neighbourhoods with bad reputations and stories of missed and seized opportunities were all shared.

This woman, a francophone, had a lot of insights into local francophone culture. She also told some amazing personal stories about her experiences as a francophone in Hamilton.


Some favourite places in Hamilton: James St N, Bibliothèque central, Musée sea beaux-arts de Hamilton, The Starlite, among others.

We then passed along a big sheet of paper and re-wrote an exquisite corpse-style history of Hamilton, in Franglais. Starting with the past, the story moved through to the present and then the future with each participant’s additions.

As the story was being passed around, we began work on our collaged maps. Using scraps of fabric, card stock, glue and sharpies, participants made artistic maps of a site, place or space in Hamilton discussed previously.

I used these strips of arrows to show one-way roads in the downtown core, namely Main St, and King St.

There were lots of fun materials and patterns to pick from.

Here a participant is adding to the Hamilton narrative while another is making their map.

Finished brainstorm sheets; What stories is Hamilton telling the country?

What are the local stories that nobody else gets to hear?

Where was the first place you visited in Hamilton?

What is your favourite place in Hamilton?

What places/things/people do you avoid in Hamilton and why?

Where can you hear people speaking French in Hamilton?

And finally, where is the heart of the city? The general consensus is that Jackson Square, the multi-use complex that hosts the Farmer’s Market, the public library and  a mall in the downtown core, is the heart of the city. Also, the monthly Art Crawls that happen the first Friday of every month were also considered to be a driving force in the city. We decided this question needed to be asked to more people, so we took it back to Hamilton Artist’s Inc to ask Art Crawl attendees.

Back at HAI, we set up a table in the lobby for Art Crawl perusers to interact and participate.

Signs in both English and French were displayed, asking Art Crawl-goers to draw us a map of the heart of the city.

With super-sized post-its and some bright coloured sharpies, we thought this activity would be fun and quick for people of all ages and abilities attending the Art Crawl.

I drew an example, a rough interpretation of Jackson Square.

Everyone was having so much fun drawing maps during the Art Crawl!

We had to leave before the night was over, but we are looking forward to having a look at these maps, and possibly including them in the forthcoming Two Tales of a City publication.

The first iteration of text of the banner on Cannon Street; NEW TALE NO EXCUSE

Watch out for more messages over the next two months! Want to participate? Fill out our Hamilton form, aussi en Français.



The Tales of a Timeline / Les Fables d’une Chronologie

Just  little reminder if you’re in the Hamilton area…

Vous invite à participer à : « Les Fables d’une Chronologie – L’atelier des Histoires de Hamilton »

Développé de la recherche amassée des archives et de questionnaires présentés aux habitants de Hamilton, l’atelier Les Fables d’une Chronologie engagera ces participants à créer collectivement une histoire vaste du passé, présent et future en pensant aux statuts économique, industriel, social, culturel et politique de cette ville.  Cette histoire fera partie de la publication pour Deux Contes d’une Ville, qui sera disponible à la fin de l’exposition.

L’atelier prendra place le Vendredi 9 mars 2012, à 3:30pm, dans la cuisine communautaire, au Marché Fermier d’Hamilton (35 boul. York, Hamilton). L’ouverture officielle de l’exposition aura lieu plus tard le même soir de 6:30 à 8:00pm à Hamilton Artists Inc. (155 rue James N. Hamilton).

Envoyez votre réservation à pour cet atelier.


The Tales of a Timeline: Hamilton’s Stories Workshop

Drawing from a range of archival research and post-it note surveys with residents of Hamilton, The Tales of a Timeline workshop will ask participants to collectively write a sprawling story of Hamilton’s past, present, and future through economic, industrial, social, cultural, and political lenses. This story will then be featured in the forthcoming publication as part of the Two Tales of a City project.

Join us for the workshop starting at 3:30pm at the Community Kitchen of the Hamilton Farmer’s Market (35 York Boulevard, Hamilton) on Friday, March 9th, 2012.   RSVP to for the workshop.

Join us for the official opening of Two Tales of a City, later on that evening, from 6:30-8pm at Hamilton Artists Inc. (155 James St. N., Hamilton).

Wrapping up Production for Hamilton: a quick look at some recent work

As we wrap up production on our upcoming installation, Two Tales of a City, at Hamilton Artists Inc., our Friday night meeting was shifted to Lebel where we set out to coat the bunting with some scotch guard and just started laying everything out.

Rosina braved the quick spray

The rest of the crew helped moved things around — the bunting is all connected and somewhere around 100 feet long.

Touch ups on the reverse side of the bunting.

Some details of some of the transfers. Michelle was at Jodi’s helping to do some of the few remaining cut-outs for the letters that we’ll be placing over the fabric square.s

Josh being detail-oriented.

The bunting are 18″ long.

Some of the pile.

More details. We’ll be shooting photographs of these today before boxing them up.

And the crew trying to get some perspective on the work.

We also spent some time pulling together some installation instructions and doing a preliminary collection of possible texts that will rotate throughout the run of the installation on the fabric banner. We’re really excited to see this go up in Hamilton next week. If you’re in town, come by our workshop on March 9th!

Upcoming Show: Two Tales of a City / Deux Contes d’une Ville

Two Tales of a City

March 9th – May 4th, 2012

Workshop & Opening: Friday March 9, 3:30pm @ Hamilton Farmer’s Market & 6:30-8pm @ Hamilton Artists Inc.

161 James Street N. Hamilton L8R 2K9


Two Tales of a City aims to examine a range of social, economic, cultural, and political dualities tracked throughout Hamilton’s past, present, and future. Gathered from archival research, interviews, and pop-up surveys and timelines, Two Tales of a City will present competing, intertwining, and parallel narratives of Hamilton through a large-scale fabric banner, oversized bunting, a workshop, and forthcoming publication.

The fabric banner installed along the side of HAI’s new building will feature a rotating series of call-and-response dualities over a six week period, while the oversized bunting will span 135 feet hung across the roofline and act as a timeline of collapsed and thriving industries, experiences, struggles, and victories of the city.

While created by drawing on stories, experiences, and data from Francophone and Anglophone communities in Hamilton, the project will culminate in a re-distribution of the timeline bunting to the community by allowing gallery visitors to take pieces with them at the close of the exhibition.

Featuring documentation of the projects, essays, and a collectively written story, the publication will be created from activities at the upcoming workshop, and will be available in print at the close of the installation, April 27, 2012. The Tales of a Timeline: Hamilton’s Stories Workshop will take place on Friday, March 8th at 3:30pm at Hamilton Farmer’s Market, with the exhibition officially opening later that night from 6:30-8:00pm at HAI.

Please contribute to the exhibition by filling in this fill-in-the-blank form and telling us your story about Hamilton!



Deux Contes d’une Ville

9 Mars – 4 Mai, 2012

Ouverture Vendredi le 9 mars de 6;30-8pm, & Les Fables d’une Chronologie : Histoires de Hamilton Marché Fermier d’Hamilton (35 boul. York, Hamilton), dans la cuisine communautaire à 3:30pm

Hamilton Artists Inc.

161 rue James N. Hamilton L8R 2K9

Ouvert ce vendredi « Artcrawl » le 9 mars jusqu’à 11pm.


Deux Contes d’une Ville vise à examiner une gamme de dualités sociales, économiques, culturelles et politiques soulignant le passé, le présent et le futur de la Ville de Hamilton. À partir de la recherche amassée des archives et de l’histoire chronologique de la ville, d’interviews et de questionnaires, Deux contes d’une ville nous présente des narrations de Hamilton en conflit, entremêlées et parallèles en utilisant une bannière à grande échelle, une série de fanions surdimensionnés, un atelier et une publication rétrospective vers la fin de l’exposition.

La bannière de tissu installée sur du côté du nouvel édifice de « Hamilton Artists Inc. » affiche une série de phrases contenant des dualités, extraite du questionnaire. Cette bannière changera au cours de la durée de l’exposition, soit huit semaines. La série de fanions géants mesure 135 pieds de longueur et est suspendue au long du toit. Ces fanions représentent l’histoire chronologique des industries disparues et celles toujours existantes et des expériences, défis et victoires de la ville.

Créer à partir des histories, expériences et de l’information accumulée au sujet des communautés francophone et anglophone de la Ville de Hamilton, le projet culmine avec la redistribution des fanions à la communauté en permettant aux visiteurs de la galerie d’en prendre des échantillons, à la fin de l’exposition.

Mettant en vedette la documentation du projet, des ouvrages littéraires et une histoire écrite collectivement, la publication sera créée des activités de l’atelier à venir et sera disponible vers la fin de l’installation, vers le 27 avril.

L’atelier : « Les Fables d’une Chronologie : Histoires de Hamilton »,  prendra place Vendredi le 9 mars, 2012 au Marché Fermier d’Hamilton (35 boul. York, Hamilton), dans la cuisine communautaire à 3:30pm, avec l’ouverture officielle de l’exposition plus tard le même soir de 6:30 à 8:00pm à « Hamilton Artists Inc. » (161 rue James N. Hamilton).

S’il vous plaît contribuer à l’exposition en remplissant ce formulaire fill-in-the-blank et nous dire votre histoire sur Hamilton!

Hamilton: Deux Contes d’une Ville – Formulaire

Deux Contes d’une Ville (9 Mars – 4 Mai, 2012  à Hamilton Artists Inc. ) vise à examiner une gamme de dualités sociales, économiques, culturelles et politiques soulignant le passé, le présent et le futur de la Ville de Hamilton. À partir de la recherche amassée des archives et de l’histoire chronologique de la ville, d’interviews et de questionnaires, Deux contes d’une ville nous présente des narrations de Hamilton en conflit, entremêlées et parallèles en utilisant une bannière à grande échelle, une série de fanions surdimensionnés, un atelier et une publication rétrospective vers la fin de l’exposition.

S’il vous plaît contribuer à l’exposition en remplissant le formulaire ci-dessous et contez nous vos histoires de Hamilton.

[gravityform id=”9″ name=”Hamilton Madlibs” title=”false” description=”false”]

Hamilton: Two Tales of a City Fill-in-the-blanks (English)

Two Tales of a City (March 9th – May 4th, 2012 at Hamilton Artists Inc.) aims to examine a range of social, economic, cultural, and political dualities tracked throughout Hamilton’s past, present, and future. Gathered from archival research, interviews, and pop-up surveys and timelines, Two Tales of a City will present competing, intertwining, and parallel narratives of Hamilton through a large-scale fabric banner, oversized bunting, a workshop, and forthcoming publication.

Please contribute to the exhibition by filling in the form below and telling us your story about Hamilton!

Or, do it in French!

[gravityform id=”8″ name=”Hamilton Madlibs” title=”false” description=”false”]

Two Tales of a City: Acrylic Medium Transfers on Fabric

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been testing out methods for transferring photocopies onto fabric using acrylic medium for the banner and bunting that will be installed on the exterior of Hamilton Artist’s Inc.

Rosina picked up this 1000ml tub of acrylic medium for The Store at SoVA‘s Store. We had some leftover scrap material to play with that we picked up from our technician and collaborator Jodi Green‘s studio at The House.

Using some photocopies of historical articles we collected from the Hamilton Archives regarding francophone feats and struggles and both the textile and steel industries in Hamilton, we got to work doing a few different test transfers .

The medium is applied directly to the fabric then the photocopied paper is placed over the fabric and rubbed in to ensure a crisp image.

We tested on both light and dark coloured fabrics, as well as pure white, to see the difference from one tone to the next. Then, we set our tests to dry overnight in the BFA studio at the SoVA.

Here’s an example of the bacl side of one of our photocopied articles. The text was photocopied in reverse so that it would come out onto the fabric in the correct direction.

The back of on of our tests before setting to dry.

After the first tests had dried at least 24 hours, we got to rinsing them to see the results.

They came out nice and clear! Here’s an example on white fabric.

Another sample soaking for a few seconds in cold water. After trying a sample with hot water, we soon realized that the heat was removing some of the transfer. It seems that cold was the way to go.

Our stack of photocopies.

Next we decided to do a few more tests on a larger surface area to play around with style and placement of the photocopies on the fabric.

Hiba was around working in her studio and giving us helpful hints for rinsing out the fabric transfers.

The remnants of paper post-rinse.

Sketches describing two different methods for transfering; one with medium painted directly on the fabric, the other is painted onto the paper then pressed into the fabric.

Our tests from last time drying. They all turned out well. Some were more interesting than others.

Old photographs of sewing machines made in Hamilton & Region during the 1800’s.

More samples of tests.

After picking up the squares from Jodi, we placed them out on the floor in the general shape of the sign they will become.

I rinsed off the larger tests we had done from last time.

Here’s the first test, medium painted on paper.

The edges were curling and the transfer was not very durable.

Two of the tests hanging to dry. The one on the right will be similar to the end results.

Just for fun, we did a test with clear glossy medium (rather than solid matte) The results were interesting and cool but would only work well on solid coloured fabric. Future t-shirts perhaps?

We started by cutting up all the photocopies in preparation for transfering 16 36″x36″ squares.

We also arranged the events from the timeline Hiba and I compiled during our last trip in Hamilton to be photocopied and transfered onto the Hamilton History timeline bunting.

A giant pile of pre-cut photocopies. After Cristina arrived to help, the pile of 8.5×11″ paper was reducing quite fast and we plowed through it in no time.

Dried samples from previous tests.

Our photocopied strips ready to go. It proved useful to dedicate a whole table for laying them out.

I wipe down the table before laying out two squares for transfering. Always important to start with a clean work surface! Soon after, Rosina and Kevin joined us.

We laid out the strips before securing their placement with the gel matte medium. We went with a broken grid pattern that sometimes crisscrosses over and under itself.

We had fun! We decided to keep working until we ran out of medium for the day.

Hard at work.

We each hard a slightly different method for applying and adhering the transfers, all with the same basic idea; paint the medium onto the fabric then rub and scratch the paper into the fabric.

After cutting up all of the articles and finishing to transfer 8 / 16 squares (each one will hold a letter to spell a word on the giant sign on the side of Hamilton Artist’s Inc), we ran out of medium and called it a day. Rosina will be finishing these squares today and we will get started on transferring the bunting on Thursday.




Two Tales of a City: Hamilton History Hunters Day 2

We spent the day in Hamilton again, this time walking around downtown as Official Hamilton History Hunters, building a timeline of Hamilton’s history with the help of city residents and visitors around Jackson Square, a multi-use complex in the downtown core.

Both Hiba and I had specific tasks that we alternated during our investigation. Hiba had our timeline, pins and post-its while I started off with the camera and a clipboard with research articles from our last trip up.

We met a lot people who ere eager to speak about Hamilton, others were rushed or didn’t have much to say.

This man was visiting Hamilton because his wife was in the hospital. He was a retired auto worker and had some good insights into that industry.

Our timeline quickly started to fill up with experiences, events, feelings, regrets, and hopes for hamilton’s past, present and future.

This person was a student and spent some time briefing a few articles and marking key words and phrases.

This woman was an infinite source of information about Hamilton’s Steele and Textile industries. I feel like we could have talked with her for hours.

Hiba did a fantastic job taking down her points for the timeline as she spoke. I think we must have had 5 or 6 different post-its filled before we continued our hunt.We used sewing pins to attach the post-its to the timeline. It was fast enough for me to manage but Hiba was having a hard time reaching from behind it.


Halfway through, I handed the camera off to Hiba and donned the timeline. I quickly realized that I now needed to renegotiate moving through city space.

Lots of hustle and bustle around Jackson Square on this morning, we headed out super early to catch students and workers on their daily commute.

It seemed productive to hang around the bus stops to spark up conversation with people coming on and off the bus.

This guy had some good stories about Hamilton’s past. As I was talking to this guy, Hiba was having a good discussion with another enthusiastic Hamilon Historian.

We were catching many people’s curiosity and interest. Some people were too busy to talk, some didn’t have much to say, and others enjoyed the invitation to share. One lady was just hanging around this area because she was looking for an address and couldn’t find it.

We had some yellow police officers follow us back to our car, I think they thought they were protecting us from the homeless people outside of this mission. I felt pretty safe, though. The night before, we also saw police officers on horses downtown. The only other time I’ve seen that was in Calgary. 

After about a solid two hours we returned to our parking lot and looked over our gathered notes.

Close up of our findings.

What will happen in Hamilton in 100 years?

What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

What happened 100 years ago in Hamilton?

What do you hope for Hamilton in a 100 years?

What did you do yesterday in Hamilton?

What will happen in Hamilton in 100 years?

Hamilton history.

100 years ago, the mafia came here from the old country.

Hamilton’s past.

The two day trip turned out to be really successful! We met and talked a lot of interesting people throughout the streets of Hamilton. Thanks to everyone at Hamilton Artists Inc. for making our stay enjoyable and productive.