Ostraca, Ekphrasis and the Magnificent Pile Part III !!!

Yes! Three exclamation marks for Part III. It is the beginning of so much more to this story. This time I broke a rule I have kept for 10 years -- the one about staying anonymous.  Although, I only bent it a little.

Here’s what happened:

Since the towers were so obviously (to me) the work of the same creative mind and muscle, I wanted to play fair: a) ask permission to use my photographs of the towers on this blog, and b) ask whether the builder(s) would like the work credited or to remain anonymous.  I left a note:


The hoped-for answer arrived in a day.

The builder is Robert.  The imagination, the design, the engineering and execution make him an extraordinary artist. He was too modest to self-identify so, I’m taking identification license. Robert, the builder, is an artist. Better ─ artist-engineer.

Within a few days, the Magnificent Pile, had changed its crown to this:

From the lake side


From the land side


And Next to it, Robert had flung:



Although it was considerably smaller than the tower, it had so much energy at its heart, enough to hold its own next to all that grandeur next door. 

I left this:


3 June 2017

Oh what a THING you are today
With your First Nations Eagle heart
     In pride of place.
Your improbably graceful curls and curves
Who knew that concrete blocks and bricks
     can sway
     can dance
     can undulate so?
The Romans and the Greeks have nothing on you.

In return, Robert sent these:

Credit:  ©Robert Zunke
Credit:  ©Robert Zunke
Credit:  ©Robert Zunke

Until next time. 

The Stealth Art Collective

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While We Were Absent

Just before my long hiatus I received this beautiful image "Poem in Ice" taken January 1, 2015 from Kris Ito.  It makes perfect timing for a small digression from 'The Magnificent Pile'  and a perfect bridge, for beginning again.  Thanks Kris!

January 1, 2015 © Kris Ito

January 1, 2015 © Kris Ito

Here it is in October 2014,  freshly written and left at my favourite talk-to-The-Spit site – below the lighthouse, a little over the rubble cliff edge.


To The Leslie Street Spit,

Almost mid-October now (I’m glad all your notes have gone – too much to read!)
Thanksgiving weekend to be more accurate.
No matter the amount of wiping, your surfaces
still bleed the ink.  It’s just too cold for the dew to
release on this breath-visible morning.

It felt imperative today, absolutely appropriate, to
thank you for your existence, your magic,
your small-gap revelation of the universe,
a little like Oz, not the sham of him. It’s the glimpse
behind the curtain…a moment so brief, it can be
easily missed.

Creative spirit and instinct mingle here. I’ve not seen it
so clearly anywhere else before.  I love you for this
and for all you draw from the natural world, from
the human world, from me and the pen.
You are indeed a temenos, a holy place, in the best
possible sense.

Thank you for the slim edge that you are, where the
natural and the deconstructed built worlds dance –
and the monarchs, this morning, so many exquisitely
beautiful monarchs.

With profound appreciation,
                               the pen and the camera and me



'til soon.

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Ostraca, Ekphrasis and the Magnificent Pile - Part II

There was that single day in February when I was able, dressed in five layers, riding slowly to mitigate the chilling effects of the wind, to bike out onto The Spit. I caught my first glimpse of this magnificent pile, not yet what it would become. 

I managed a phone-cam shot but couldn’t keep my hands ungloved long enough to write. 

Next, a two months tough-to-wait-out hiatus; it took that long for the weather to be biking friendlier. (No matter what reports are in the city, The Spit is much cooler.  Plus, with fewer rubble mounds than there once were, there is little to block the wind at the rubble cliff edges.)

On April 23rd, headwinds and gusts. I couldn’t wait another day.   I was uneasy that I might find the tower reduced to the rubble it had emerged from before I could get back to it. Getting low and small on my bike, I took off to defy the wind. 

Worth it, worth it, worth it! Look what I found!

Constructed in the ancient Roman way, dry, nothing to hold the materials together except the art of engineering. At least 12 to 15 ft (3.5-4.5 m) tall. Breathtaking. Magical.

At the tower’s base, down the rubble cliff going left:

At the tower's base, down the rubble cliff going right:

To the rubble beach:

Views from the landing where the pathway separates to the left and right:

And here is what I left behind:


April 23, 2017

Hello gorgeous!
Your predecessors last year – and wasn’t it
the year before too?  Were awe-inspiring
but you, you are something else altogether
with your heavens’ reach and
your indecipherable hieroglyphics at your feet
your divided staircase to the sea.

I want to linger here with you.
       Your resurrection?
       Your reincarnation?
       Or simply your determination

Well, you know what I’m talking about
                                      don’t you

Where is Keats when you need him!?


As I headed back toward my bike feeling mighty fine, I caught this in the distance:

Bet there is a little tower envy coming from that place across the bay.

The magnificent pile is a classic expression of optimism and determination.  Over the last couple of years at least seven such towers have appeared at various times.  Each eventually returned to a rubble state. 

When I imagine the labour and risk involved in constructing these towers, I am awed and in wonder at the Spit-power that inspires such effort and tenacity.  The towers’ engineering style, their architecture and attention to detail have had enough in common to suggest the same builder. 

The determination to begin again, and again, and again, takes me to a story my mother once told:  The war had barely ended.  Ruins were more common than buildings left unscathed. The devastation was staggering. People were disheartened, mourning.

An opera house had been significantly damaged.  Rubble everywhere. 

Then what?  

Determined, hope-filled, broom-wielding optimists appeared one by one and began to sweep and carry rubble from the stage and the auditorium. So many others joined that soon the stage was clear, the orchestra assembled and desperately needed music filled the musicians, the instruments,  the air and its audience.  Again. 

Could there be something to the concept of creative spirit?

Until next time.

The Stealth Art Collective

Spit-love and Wild Art


Our Spit-Love story’s anniversary is today, ten years today. A good day to begin telling our story, yes? And I am delighted to be the one in our small collective of artists to tell it.

I’ve noticed during our time together ― The Spit and mine ― that most visitors, especially the camera bearing ones are interested in this urban wilderness for its wild life, the conservation efforts. Visitors without cameras might be carrying fishing equipment if you are out early enough to catch them, or they are earbuds wearing walkers and joggers.  Oh, and the cyclists. 

The results of a Google search confirm this.  Compared to recreational and wild life interests, there is relatively little to be found about wild art, about the creative instinct and its dance with us on The Spit.  This has pride of place on the Stealth Art Collective’s list of what we love and what excites us about The Spit.

In the beginning using photo documentation, our purpose was to track the creative instinct as it reveals itself in the spontaneous, anonymously made artworks to be found there.  We’ve not been to another place where you can get this close to a clear uncompromised view of the creative instinct at work. 

In this wild, messy urban location, there is absolutely no incentive to make art: no curator, no art enthusiast to please, no critic interested, no formal institutionalized setting for display. Certainly, no prestige. Urban-world ideas of what is precious and valuable and conventional definitions of what is art  are impossible to apply. And, except for once in 2014 ―  that’s a story for another time ― there are no financial rewards, and yet…

I had experienced The Spit for years before 2008 but on April 14 I saw it differently. At the furthest point, below the lighthouse I saw this:

I felt a shift in perception. It was one of those rare experiences when the universe seems to open her curtain just a little to reveal something important, enlightening, some truth. 

And so it was the first day of the next ten years. 

Immediately we made a rule of conduct.  If we were tracking the creative instinct, then we could not intervene, we would only document what we found.  And just as immediately, we broke our rule. Not our fault. The creative instinct coaxed us to play.

There was something irresistible about crowning it with a stone spine. Perhaps it was for us a way of marking the beginning of something significant.  You never know when something is beginning until hindsight kicks in. We’ll return to this fine rebar creature in its many incarnations later in the story.

Until next time. 

The Stealth Art Collective

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