Craft (Felted Fossil Stones)


Perhaps not the usual photography I post here but I’ve been quite busy making. These are a few of the wet felted ‘fossil stones’ I’ve been working on lately (they also double as pin cushions!). The gastropod and trilobite forms have been needle felted onto the rocks near the end of the wet felting process. Lots of fun to make.¬† : )


© Karen McRae, 2017



An Urban Breathing Space: Evergreen Brick Works, Toronto

A wonderfully creative and sustainable use of retired industrial land in the city, the Evergreen Brick Works is an extraordinary community environmental centre located on the site of the former Don Valley Brick Works (1889-1980’s) which produced many of the bricks that built Toronto. Old and new is beautifully integrated, creating an eclectic and vibrant space that makes full use of its central location on a swath of green space along the Don Valley ravine that runs through Toronto.

If you arrive on a Saturday you will find a bustling farmers market, selling local seasonal food, and buzzing with the energy of creative and interesting people. We brought home some fresh fish, garlic scapes, new potatoes, swiss chard and multicoloured heirloom carrots, which were all put to good use.
An interesting little shelter where you can wait for a bus or a free shuttle to take you to the subway system for a convenient commute. Note the industrial pieces on the ceiling re-purposed as integrated art.

A central garden space showing both new and old buildings.

Above: A small section of the children’s garden. There are children’s day camps that run out of some of the buildings.

The open rafter area inside this building above,  marks the Koerner Gardens, which are planted with native species. There is also a garden shop where you can learn about, and purchase, native plantings and many other products.

The large artwork on this wall is called Watershed Consciousness and was created by artist Ferruccio Sardella. It represents a map of the rivers that flow through the city and gently flows with water itself to sustain the plants tucked into the crevices that mark the waterways. The structural metalwork acts as a support for the both the building and the artwork.

Much of the old graffiti has been left on the surfaces and somehow it adds to the dynamic community feel of the site.

The interior space of Koerner Gardens. In the winter this area is transformed into a skating rink where you can wind your way around the raised beds under the open rafters. The skating rink is equipped with a refrigeration system and the waste heat produced from this system is directed to heat the adjoining cafe.

An image of what the clay and shale quarry used to look like before it was filled with water and turned into a vital habitat for native flora and fauna.
Below: A cross-section representation of the rock layers found in the quarry.

You just have to turn away from the buildings to see what is, essentially, the back garden to the Brick Works. A green space so vast that it’s hard to image you are in a huge city. There are winding walking trails within the 40 acre site that take you to lovely ponds, boardwalks and sitting areas. And beyond that the continuation of the ravine system and its huge network of paths.

There are many interesting businesses, events and features within the Evergreen Brick Works that I haven’t even touched on here. If you are interested in more information you can visit their website here:

All images © Karen McRae

Pursuading Order

There are times when I really notice order. I admit it’s not usually when I’m looking around my house.
It becomes particularly apparent when I’m looking through the camera lens. In a sense I’m always drawn to order even though I don’t always practice it. I like looking at it, I appreciate carefulness and am also drawn to certain repetition and routine. I relish the quiet rhythms of movement in yoga and climbing or cycling and even walking across the earth. I suppose these kinds of order are like a meditation. A way of centreing oneself in an often uncontrollable world. I realize making images is part of this for me. You might be surprised at the number of times I rearrange them on these pages. Thinking about how one image flows to the next or how your eye is drawn through the series.
It makes me think about the sense of order demonstrated by others when I happen across it. Perfectly lined up trees, immaculate summer lawns, thoughtful gardens or carefully placed tools of industry. And then there are natures own brilliant repetitions of shapes, showing up over and over again. There is a comfort in that order.
I like to think I tread lightly on the earth. It may not be so, but when I tread I am always appreciating the natural order that is underfoot, and trying myself to persuade just a little into existence.

The Canadian War Museum 2

If anyone was left wondering what the  War Museum in it’s entirety looks like after my previous Deconstruction post I’ve book-ended this one with two different full views and included a few images I haven’t yet posted. As always you can click on the images for a larger view.

For information about sustainable design and the museum click here
Architect: Raymond Moriyama

All images © Karen McRae

Deconstructing Architecture: The Canadian War Museum

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is sustainably designed with the notion of regeneration. At the back it rises gently  out of the landscape in some places barely visible. In the summer its green roof sways with approx 10,684 square metres of native grasses further integrating the building into the surroundings. In the winter I love how minimalist it appears from different angles, how the materials used and the cement in particular, soften against the snow. Every angle intriguing.

While nature may be ravaged by human acts of war, it inevitably survives, regenerates and renews itself.Raymond Moriyama, Architect

All images © Karen McRae