By Lizzie McNeely
On a crisp autumn night it is clear that Toronto Islanders inhabit the manifestation of an elf’s dream. This revelation came to me when I attended the tenth anniversary of Artscape Gibraltar Point. On September 25, this retreat for artists and creative thinkers opened its studios, staged performance pieces and hosted installations in and around the 100 year old former elementary school in which it is housed. Throughout the evening evidence of elf involvement – of both the benevolent and malevolent variety – mounted.
Exhibit A: While heading through the twilight a man carrying what could only be described as a lance overtook us on his bicycle. Was jousting to occur? Perhaps. My suspicion is – though – that he was some kind of modern version of a centaur (half man / half bike as opposed to the archaic man / horse hybrid) sent by the Goddess Artemis to hunt the three deer that we then stumbled upon. Yes, that’s right, while initially our shoddy night vision tricked us into the horrifying conclusion that a herd of hungry great danes was approaching, we then realized that these were actually a mama deer and her fawns quietly grazing. Pure mythical magic.
Exhibit B: When we arrived at Gibraltar Point we found a giant tree decorated with several bicycles hanging from bungee cords. Cynics may think, whatever, I’ve seen better at Nuit Blanche. But Nuit Blanche is overrun with drunken mobs. Here the enormous tree was void of spectators, with bicycles blowing in the heavy lake winds. Eerie. Elfin.
Exhibit C (elves of the malevolent variety): While stumbling down a path to the beach lit by a chain of Christmas lights a couple of guys approached me and said, “Oh, you must be the girl whose portrait is hanging in the hallway.” Um, nope, but I am mighty afraid of this doppelganger painting, since I’m pretty sure that were I to look into its eyes it would steal my soul, so needless to say I avoided said part of the building.
Exhibit D: The uniform of choice at the event seemed to be crowns adorned with giant sparkly musical notes. I never checked if people so garbed were involved in a performance. I prefer to believe that this was their personal fashion choice, since it would, then, be incontestable that they were elves.
Content in the soundness of my elf diagnosis, I settled down on the cold beach for a serenade by suede coated, goateed banjo player Jason Benoit. While the planned bonfire fizzled due to the strong winds, the buffeting waves and glowing moon were all that was needed for ambient bliss. And while I’ve always thought of myself as a true city girl, at that moment I couldn’t help but contemplate converting to an elf state-of-mind. Should you wish a similar voyage into dreamland, an exhibit of Island history will be on at Gibraltar Point till October 17th: http://www.torontoartscape.on.ca/node/665.