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Ice huts transform into works of art displayed throughout Innisfil (14 photos)

One-of-a-kind public art project was inspired by the community

Ice fishing huts decorated by 11 local artists are now on display at Innisfil Beach Park and select locations throughout town. 

The works of art were unveiled by the artists Friday morning at Innisfil Beach Park with Mayor Dollin and members of council, MPP Andrea Khanjin, as well as Donny Crowder and Gail Loder of Gail's Hot Box Ice Huts Innisfil. 

This past fall, the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library, in partnership with the Town of Innisfil and local ice fishing hut operator Gail’s Hotbox Ice Huts, invited local artists to replace their canvasses with ice fishing huts. Eleven local artists transformed simple plywood huts, into refreshingly vibrant works of art for a public art installation across Innisfil.

The one-of-a-kind public art project was inspired by the Innisfil community. Artists were encouraged to explore the themes of Lake Simcoe’s heritage and legacy. The huts will be located throughout Innisfil from now until mid-March and will be displayed in various locations throughout Innisfil -- in public parks, community spaces, and in operation at Gail’s Hot Box Ice Huts.

“Projects like the Ice Hut Art that bring together community, creativity and connection are vital to community wellbeing,” said Mayor Lynn Dollin. “Not only are these huts beautiful, but they are engaging, and thought-provoking art displays. One thing is certain, Innisfil is a gem in Simcoe County, and the Ice Hut Art is just another reason to explore your own backyard.”

The Ice Hut Art project was designed as an open-air art tour. With locations spread across Innisfil, art lovers and adventurers are encouraged to visit all the huts throughout February and March. “We are passionate about supporting the local arts community here in Innisfil and across Simcoe County,” said Susan Baues, ideaLAB & Library Deputy CEO. “Just like Innisfil has so much to explore, there is so much talent to discover.”

The public art project was inspired by the community. To ensure that the project was inclusive and representative of the perspective and stories of all residents, community partners from Innisfil Arts, Culture and Heritage Council, UPlift Black and Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle were consulted and formed part of the jury.

The participating artists were selected from across Simcoe County and brought their unique styles, perspectives and passions to brighten Innisfil’s wintry landscapes. 

  • Phulkari Quilt House by Angela Aujla
  • Winter Colour by Catherine Bechard
  • Harvesting the Hard Water by Tamara Benoit
  • Talisman by Tim Laurin
  • Barn Quilt by Christopher Moore
  • Fire and Ice by Cassidy Morris
  • The Fish Hut by Lasha Racquel
  • Lady Simcoe ~ Silent Solitude by Erin Sanderson, Maria Kelebeev & Sharon Chick
  • The POINT is Sustainable Economic Development by LeAndra Alyssa
  • Winter Harvest by Shauna Umney-Grey
  • Winter Memories by Natalie Very B

Cassidy Morris, one of the artists who contributed to the project, was in attendance Friday morning at Innisfil Beach Park along with her family. Morris is a graduate of Western University where she studied visual arts. She heard about the project from her sister and decided to apply last fall. 

Her piece, 'Fire and Ice' is inspired by the Innisfil Farmers' Market and the growers' community. She decided to focus her piece on hot peppers, using a mix of vibrant colours against a black background, as well as icicles trickling across the top. At the back of the hut is a painting of a woman with icicles in her hair and flames of fire on her tongue. 

"The theme was hot peppers so it supports the farmers' market and growers," she said. 

Morris says she spent anywhere from eight to 14 hours per day for the past few months to complete the project.

"My entire house became a studio for two months straight," she laughed. "It was a big undertaking but I loved it, it was the best two months of my life."

"We were hoping there would be some totally off the wall different things," said Crowder, who was impressed with the pieces presented. "We met a lot of new people and friends along the way, it was a great experience."

"We are very excited to give these huts a permanent home in our village every ice season here on Lake Simcoe," added Loder. 

The huts will be on display for the remainder of the year and will be available for use next season. 

By investing in the health and vibrancy of the community, the town says the project will address issues of social isolation, belonging, mental health and well-being in a post-pandemic environment as recognized by the Town of Innisfil Community Needs assessment.

"It's time to enjoy the outdoors, enjoy winter and enjoy art," said the mayor. 

The Ice Hut Art project supports the Town’s Culture Master Plan. Please wear a face covering and maintain social distancing when visiting the Ice huts. For a list of locations, artist biographies and more information visit Ice Hut Art.

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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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