Correspondence

A Portal of Blue: Dahae Song and Timberlost’s Journey into the Depths of Belonging

Words By sheila lam

 

In the heart of Toronto’s Ossington neighbourhood, a portal has opened – a gateway into the profound and introspective world of Korean-Canadian artist Dahae Song. The immersive installation, created in collaboration with Monos and Lauren Wilson, the creative force behind floral design studio Timberlost, marks the opening of the new Monos Ossington store. This piece beckons the viewer to enter a realm where colour, emotion, and the eternal search for belonging intertwine, setting the stage for Monos’ latest venture in the city.

For Song, the act of creation is a deeply personal odyssey, a means of navigating the complex tapestry of her own existence. As an immigrant who has traversed oceans and borders, the concept of home has remained elusive, a fleeting sensation she has long sought to capture. “The only physical space that I can call a home is in nature, where it really belongs to nobody,” Song reflects.

Through her art, Song has found a language to express this perpetual yearning to forge connections that transcend the boundaries of language and culture. Her paintings serve as an invitation, a silent entreaty to the viewer to embark upon a shared journey of understanding and empathy. “All I really want from my work is for people to feel a sense of connectedness when they experience it,” she explains.

 

For this installation, Song has delved into the depths of blue, a colour that has long been a companion in her artistic journey. “Blue is actually the first colour that I really painted with when I started practising,” she reveals. The collaboration with Monos has reignited this long-standing fascination, resulting in a series of paintings that pulsate with a newfound vitality, as if the essence of the sky and sea has been distilled onto the canvas.

Song’s process is one of quiet contemplation and intuitive exploration. She sits with her paintings, allowing them to reveal themselves slowly, each brushstroke a meditation on the ineffable nature of belonging. “I try to be as empty as I can when I paint. And I try to access, almost subconsciously, things that exist in nature,” she muses, her words a testament to the profound connection she seeks to forge between her inner world and the vast expanses of the natural realm.

For Song, timelessness is at the core of her artistic practice. “For me, it’s everything,” she reflects. “Timelessness in the way the work feels and the way it exists. It carries me through the pains of creating, whether physically painful or mentally stressful.” This sense of timelessness imbues her work and underlies her approach to life and her role as an artist. “I don’t know who or when my work will serve people. And that actually frees me,” she explains. “Knowing that this work will outlive me and that it’ll have its own life and operate on its own, regardless of my control, makes me feel so devoted to my practice.”

The resulting works are evidence of Song’s unique vision, a crystallization of her ongoing dialogue with the forces that shape our existence. The paintings vibrate with an inner life, the shades of blue evoking the boundless depths of the ocean and the infinite expanse of the sky. There is a sense of movement, of transformation, as if the colours themselves are constantly becoming.

 

This theme of metamorphosis is echoed in the floral installation crafted by Lauren Wilson, a kindred spirit who shares Song’s fascination with the ephemeral beauty of the natural world. Wilson’s contribution serves as a counterpoint to Song’s paintings, a living tableau that invites the viewer to contemplate the fleeting nature of existence.

With a background in literature, Wilson’s approach to floral design is deeply rooted in storytelling and symbolism. “When I think about an installation specifically, I create a narrative around it,” she shares. The narrative for the Monos Ossington installation revolves around the concept of portals, particularly the sky and water encountered during travel. Wilson explains, “I started becoming obsessed with the colour blue, and I couldn't stop thinking about it whenever I thought about Monos. It just seems like the colour of travel, the colour of the destination, and the colour of our collective home.”

To bring this vision to life, Wilson has curated a selection of blue flowers, including cornflowers, hydrangeas, and irises. Also incorporated are natural grasses hand-dyed with an indigo pigment derived from dried iris roots, a process that mirrors the theme of transformation central to the installation. The installation features layered boulders and rocks with grasses and flowers growing between them, creating a sense of organic growth within the store’s clean, modern aesthetic. Situated in front of a window, the installation is visible from the street, drawing passersby into the captivating blue portal.

 

Together, Song and Wilson have crafted a harmonious fusion of colour and emotion. This portal invites the viewer to cross the threshold and step into a realm where the boundaries between the physical and the metaphysical blur. It is a space of quiet introspection, a sanctuary where one can contemplate the profound questions that lie at the heart of the human experience.

Through this collaboration, Monos has created a space that encapsulates its ethos of mindful travel, a recognition that the most profound journeys are often those that lead us inward. In Song’s paintings and Wilson’s floral installation, we find a reflection of our own longing for connection, for a sense of belonging that transcends the confines of the material world. ■

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