The Art of Business: Drake Devonshire launches outdoor Art exhibition in Prince Edward County


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The impact of immersive art expressions in business — a Drake Devonshire case study.

Written by Chris Penrose

Mia Nelson has been the curator of The Drake Hotel, Toronto’s iconic bastion of the arts and hospitality communities, for 11 years. If you’ve spent any time at the hotel to eat or drink, and if you’ve seen their annual Nuit Blanche installations in Toronto, you’ve digested a bit of Nelson’s artistic vision.

In June 2018, Nelson launched an installation called “Follow That Thought” at Drake Devonshire, the brand’s popular lakefront outpost that has served as an oasis away from the bustle of city life. It’s a lush getaway within a canopy of green and a stream running outback.  The collection of outdoor sculptures were designed to live within this picturesque piece of Prince Edward County; the installation itself highlighting the fact that dialogue is one of the most important elements of art—one conversation can swell into a movement.

Bringing outdoor art to the Devonshire property is what Nelson does best. “I deal with so many different spaces. We don’t have a white-cube space, so I am always looking for something that will work well in an unusual or unique setting.”

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In total, there are eight new pieces in the show that will be shown until November 10, 2018 and five long-term installations that are designed to add to the already thought-provoking natural sight lines, which include an unobstructed view of the horizon, gardens, and small waterfall.

“I’m really interested in sight lines,” says Nelson. Speaking about a view behind the property: a large tree and footbridge reveal a bit of the lake. She explains how they’ve paired the outdoor sculptures with the natural elements in this exhibit to enhance visitors’ experience of the natural environment. “We could’ve just cut down that tree, but that’s been here for generations,” Nelson says. “I thought, ‘here’s an opportunity to activate a sight line.’”

The works along the lakefront vary widely, but are all designed to change in appearance based on the time of day and the weather: Maryse Larivière’s tree-hanging sculptures chime in the wind and add colour to the view, while Letha Wilson’s piece on the water’s edge have geological photos printed on steel, using negative space to frame ever-changing views of the sky and water.

Drake devonshire art exhibitionThe Drake Devonshire is an expression of what makes The Drake Hotel’s approach to hospitality unique and innovative, and “Follow That Thought” is an experiential statement of that philosophy: “There are some great hotels that show great art,” says Nelson. “But nobody builds an environment with art, the way we do.”

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