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A Runaway Forest

A Runaway Forest

Jaakko Pernu
b.1958

A Runaway Forest
  • Aluminum
  • 2015
  • 1.4 m x 7.3 m
  • 224 King Street West, Theatre Park Condos, Toronto

About the artwork

Installed in front of King Street West’s Theatre Park Condos, Jaakko Pernu’s sculpture, Runaway Forest, uses geometric forms to reflect the chaotic but beautiful nature of downtown. Inspired by burning trees, eight metal poles, “tree trunks,” stand in a pond of water. They are enclosed by a frame made up of dozens of criss-crossing aluminum ribbons. These “twigs” echo some design features seen nearby, such as the diagonal slashes that adorn the facade of Roy Thompson Hall. When viewed head-on, the sculpture’s tree forms seem to intertwine seamlessly.

The integration of this artwork has ultimately created a “go-to” meeting space in the front court of a busy and urban condo building.

About the artist

The Finnish sculptor and environment artist, Jaakko Pernu, has been working with natural materials, often on large scales, for over 30 years. Many of Pernu’s works are inspired by his early life, when he helped his father construct wooden boats on the west coast of Finland. By observing his father’s techniques for manipulating wood, Pernu learned how to create elegant forms of his own. The materials that Pernu uses in his sculptures are often found near his installation sites, physically connecting the piece to the specific and local environment it is set to occupy.

Pernu has created many public works for sites around the world, with Canada being a country that he returns to often. Some of his installations can be found at the Oulu Museum of Art (Finland), the Kotka Sculpture Park (Korea), the Arte Stella (Italy), the Fortum (Moscow), Sculpture in the Wild (United States), the Vancouver Convention Centre (Canada), and Toronto’s Concord Park Place (Canada).

Fun facts

  • Jaakko Pernu often uses organic materials in his artworks so they naturally decay and weather over time. Their degradation serves as another reminder for the influence that nature can have on humans, and vice versa.
  • Interested in seeing more of Pernu's sculptures? You're in luck. His installation Summer Clouds, created for Toronto's Concord Park Place community, is close. Walk underneath these three nest-like steel sculptures and marvel at the playful shadows they cast.

Engagement questions

  • Toronto’s identity is partly shaped by its public realm. Do you think Toronto would be less appreciable without this sculpture?