Home
 
Choose Your City
Change City

Artist paints portrait of the city — in words

On a blustery day in November, Dave Murray is on a sign-hunting mission in Leslieville.

On a blustery day in November, Dave Murray is on a sign-hunting mission in Leslieville.

“Firewood. There’s a good one you don’t see every day,” he says, approaching a padlocked cage with a painted wooden sign advertising kindling for $7.99. He scribbles a note in his Moleskine.

Murray, a 24-year-old artist and recent Sheridan College graduate, is mapping Toronto with word clouds.

He starts by trekking through a neighbourhood and taking notes on signs in the area. Then he plots the words on a map, basing their size and placement on where and how often they appear. The result is a unique portrait.

“It’s visualizing one’s neighbourhood geography in a way that’s not visually based,” says Murray.

A lot of signs repeat themselves — coffee, barber, parking lot — but Murray delights in the unusual words he finds on Toronto streets.

“Double Triple Loaders,” spotted outside a coin laundry, is a great one. “I Buy Your Jewellery,” emblazoned on a pawnshop window, is wonderfully tacky.

Murray’s word cloud project started as a school assignment and evolved out of his love for vintage signs and typography. His first map was of the Kensington Market.

Now the St. Catharines native has three complete maps of Kensington, the Ossington Strip, and Queen West and Parkdale.

When he finishes Leslieville in a few weeks, he plans to start on the Junction.

 
 
Consider AlsoFurther Articles