closed parks toronto

Closed Toronto parks are shown starkly empty in chilling aerial series

We've all seen dystopian images of closed Toronto parks with caution tape wrapped around swing sets and benches, but what do these empty recreational spaces look like from above?

Acclaimed Toronto commercial photographer David Wile sought to answer that question and literally gain a new perspective on the effects of the pandemic on our public play spaces through a series of aerial drone photos called Park Closed.

"Inspired by a walk in Toronto with his daughter during the COVID-19 pandemic, Park Closed offers a birds-eye-view of recreational design – from a set of monkey bars to the Aviva Centre – at a time when citizens are forbidden to gather publicly," says an artist's statement.

"A bleak aerial drone collection of abandoned spaces where youth normally gather for sport and play, Park Closed is not only an exploration of symmetry and structure but also a reflection of the loneliness experienced by those who spent months in forced isolation during the nationwide lockdown."

Though we can't gather in these places currently, we can appreciate them through these images which from this angle, show the eerie artfulness and creativity involved in designing the spaces we once took for granted. Their oddly mathematical beauty is weirdly easier to see without any people.

"I started the series in early April at the beginning of COVID when I was walking my daughter through all the empty parks in my neighbourhood. It was so strange to see them so empty [and] I started to imagine how they would look from above," Wile told blogTO.

"The next day I pulled out my drone and started the series. I even ended up hiring a helicopter to go shoot some of the bigger venues in the city."

In his artist statement, Wile says his intention for the series, "starkly geometrical in the absence of humanity, is to help people reconnect with past memories, reflect on the current reality of their city and contemplate the return of sporting events – and a sense of normalcy – to Toronto."

It also states that he "hopes people will discover in these images a temporary exile that collides with a frisson of anticipation for the day when these collective spaces are once again bustling with kinesthetic human interaction."

In July, a selection of six sporting venue pieces went on display at the Only One Gallery on Brock.

"As for any future photographs regarding 'Park Close' I will continue to find empty parks and photograph them until the pandemic winds down," says Wile. "I had to take a break as the city started to open back up, but now that things have shut back down I will continue to find interesting public spaces."

Lead photo by

David Wile


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