Artists Eric Cheung and Sean Martindale are busy planting flowers on the two large posterboards on the walls, they cut the outlines of large triangles deep into the thick layers of posters. Then they pull those triangles out, folding and curving them into a pocket that’s shaped like something between a cone and a pyramid, using a staple gun to firmly attach it to the wall. When all the triangles across both boards are cut and folded and curved and stapled, Cheung and Martindale will fill each pocket with dirt and place a plant inside, spraying it with water, turning poster-covered utility poles and walls into makeshift plant-holders. The artists and urban activists are “activating public space,” introducing nature “to the urban environment in ways that might encourage others to do the same, or to at least consider such possibilities.”
While similar projects such as guerilla gardening intend to have their completed projects mostly assimilate with their new environment, and others, such as Posterchild’s planter boxes, bring outside materials like wooden frames into an environment to work by juxtaposition, Martindale and Cheung are able to call attention to their planters without using much of anything that didn’t already exist where they were put up; all that’s new is the soil, the plants, and the staples.
The simplicity and accessibility of those materials means that anyone can duplicate the planters, the duo is hoping that “people will pick up on these concepts and spread the ideas around. We want to support more engagement…Anyone is welcome to use one of our patterns or to make their own variation, as long as it isn’t for a private profit–driven initiative. We want to keep it open-source, as was always intended. It belongs to this city and other urban environments.”
All photos by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.