In the Belly of a Bear is a 15-ft diameter wooden sculpture designed by Calgary-based artists Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. Set into the sand along the beach of Lake Ontario for the duration of Winter Stations (Feb 15 – March 18, 2015), the design was one winner of an international Design Competition challenging architects, designers, and artists from around the world to re-imagine the Lifeguard towers on the beach of Toronto.
Imposing a dark, charred aesthetic into the bright, frozen landscape, viewers are invited to climb up a wooden ladder into the belly of the structure, emerging into a domed sitting space lined in thick warm fur. With a round window pointing towards the sky above the cold lake, In the Belly of a Bear speaks to the theme of the design competition (freeze & thaw) as seen through a series of juxtapositions – scorched & frozen, interior & exterior, isolation & insulation – intending ultimately to build a social interspace between the two. Within this cozy, warm space, viewers thaw slowly, and perhaps stay a while to gaze out the window into the cold winter sky.
As part of the competition, the structure was fabricated by Atelier One Five (a fabrication studio in Toronto). The artists deconstructed secondhand fur & faux fur coats to make the lining of the sculpture, supplemented by manufactured furs. Speaking to collective intimacy in public space and ideologies of social warmth, the artists sourced secondhand material as an ethical and economic consideration, hoping to address the inherently controversial cultural role of fur in our cold climate.