Les Nobles

Sarah Couture McPhail is an artist, resident of the Brockton community and the creator of Neighbourhood Fan Mail.

About Les Nobles

I’ve been taking pictures of women who mean something to me (friends and family) and photoshopping them into old english paintings, then tracing the images and turning them into prints. I then write playful historical bios for them that are based on their accomplishments. The project is as much about the process as it is about the people featured in the prints. It is a lengthy method but it’s comforting spending time with the my people in the prints. Meditating on who they are and what they mean to me is validating. The history of women being reduced to their physical attributes is very long and rooted. I have added modern elements to the images too to ground them in the present though they are dressed up in the past.

The Honourable Baroness Karin

Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Baqi, Karin, LL.B. Esq. Born in the town of Nepean to parents immigrated from Bangladesh. Baroness of No One is Illegal; attorney under the Law Society of Ontario; scholar of the Humanities; protector and advocate of new Canadians and of the undocumented; political champion of the downtrodden on the streets in the land of Toronto; loving and devoted daughter and aunt; lover of ales and all things crafty.

Lady Mega

14 x 20 inch block print
McPhail, Megan. Lady of the T.O.R.D. Born in the small town of Timmins. Admirer of Sappho; scholar of networking computing devices; superior carpenter; master of the round flat track; known for her brute strength, her amiability, her love of ales, and her vociferous astuteness; she is a legendary aunt and a loyal sister and daughter.

Dame Nira

 Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Elgueta, Nira, Dame of Dundas. Born in Chile, immigrated to the land of Toronto. Scholar of women studies and of the arts; volunteer to the needy; executive to houses of refuge; benefactor of time and servitude to the destitute; advocate of the promotion of peace and social justice; mother of Lia and Simon; beloved friend to all.

Duchess Lia

14 x 20 inch block print


Reyes, Lia, Presider over Dundas West, born in Chile, nurtured in the land of Toronto; threefold threat of thespian arts; wielder of the long and short board; melodic player of the ukulele; lover of dancing and of whimsy; kind and loving daughter and sister; fun and loyal friend; immanent full and rewarding life ahead; best laugh ever.

Vicereine Carrianne

Aquatint on 4×4 inch zinc plate.

Leung, Carrianne, Ph.D. Vicereine of Brockton, born in Hong Kong, immigrated to Canada and grew up in the land of Scarborough. Doctor and scholar of Sociology and Equities; writer of fictions and of reality; beloved professor of modern English; co-owner of an Organic Grocery; mother of Fenn and her dogs Kuro and Ruby; partner of Andrew; steadfast friend.


Princess Jaclyn


Ray, Jaclyn, Princess of the Annex Territories and Liberal Indiana, born in Toronto and came into adulthood in London town of Ontario; master of mending fabrics and friends; celebrated organizer of people and materials; horticulturist of lavish gardens; gatherer of communities; missed wherever she leaves; dedicated friend; matched partner of Jason; lover of animals big and small.

Art in the Park

Since the fall, Linda Naccarato has been spending her Saturday mornings between 11 and 1 at McCormick Park creating outdoor artwork with children.  The materials range from sticks and leaves, to ice balls and snow cakes.  I had a few opportunities to join with my children over the past few months and it’s a great way to get out of the house and meet up with others.


■ – I’ve heard that you’ve been teaching art outside at McCormick Park since September. How did this start and how has the experience been so far?

Linda Naccarato – I was first contacted by the Friends of McCormick Park to lead some eco-art activities for the launch of the McCormick Park Cafe and new playground. On the day of the launch, I was overwhelmed by the support from the local community and their determination to make the park a centre for the neighbourhood. At a community meeting not long after, we discussed the possibility for a weekly, drop-in program that would connect kids to nature and attract families to the park. The experience has been incredibly positive so far, and we have a solid group of families that have now incorporated natural art making and creative play into their Saturday routines.

■ – What kinds of things are you doing with the kids and how has their reaction been?

LN – My focus is really to foster a variety of opportunities for open-ended natural play. Each week there is a new activity, like building structures with sticks and yarn or weaving with fabric and natural materials, but there are also lots of loose parts (stones, shells, bark etc.) to encourage the kids to play in their own creative ways. Although I’m always modelling new techniques, I try to keep my resources simple and accessible, so that parents and kids can easily reproduce them at home and continue the momentum to play outside.

The kids reactions have been fantastic. I love seeing them try something new, like drawing with crayons on hot rocks, but my favourite is when they use the materials in unexpected ways. It’s great to see them feeling comfortable to dive right in, experiment and create!


■ – Can you give me a little information about you and your creative past? How did you come to be an art teacher?

LN – I come from a background in Visual Arts, and while studying Design in University I quickly realized how important it was for me creatively to keep my hands busy and my fingers messy. Luckily, I have always worked with kids, leading camp groups, working in preschools and teaching afterschool art programs, so I had a wonderful outlet to keep on experimenting and really play with art again. I eventually followed this path to Teacher’s College, where I focused on integrating art throughout the curriculum. The majority of the work I do now is in schools as an art educator, teaching diverse art practices like recycled textile weaving and natural shibori dyeing, practices that connect art-making with nature and the environment. Teaching art to me is all about showing kids another way for them to express their ideas, and think creatively.

■ – I’m inspired by your willingness to get out in the middle of winter to get creative. What drives you or inspires you?

LN – I know, playing outside in the season of Arctic air blasts seems pretty crazy! The truth is my inspiration comes from the many kids I’ve seen who would rather stay inside no matter what the weather is. I think that we need to model all seasons of outdoor play and teach our kids to really embrace the weather outside our windows no matter what that is. I have visited Nature Kindergartens and Forest Schools in Northern Europe, and the children there loved being outside, whether it was in rain boots or snowsuits, they loved the freedom and all the opportunities they had to explore outdoors. I’m more than happy to bundle up each Saturday and share some of that enthusiasm for natural play with our Brockton neighbourhood families.

■ – I can’t wait to get my kids out there with you painting snow and making nature based art. What are you looking forward to this season?

LN – I love that winter gives us a white canvas to work on outside, so I’ll be excited to create art with seeds, sticks and coloured ice. Making art outdoors in a public space like the park also gives us a chance to make a little magic for unsuspecting neighbours and might just encourage someone else to get outside and create something.


For more information on school workshops with Linda or if you are interested in starting your own neighbourhood natural art drop-in,  check out www.artwithlinda.ca, and follow her @artwithlinda on instagram.

Gallery Hopping on St. Helen’s

I have always enjoyed looking at art.  While in high school in the suburbs of Toronto, our amazing art teacher would encourage us to go to Toronto and see the latest shows in the small artist-run or commercial galleries.  This was before Queen West was a thing. We would take school buses downtown to creak up the stairs at 80 Spadina or roam the halls of 401 Richmond in Toronto’s Fashion District.  I remember our class piling into Jane Corkin’s tiny gallery space on John Street before she moved her gallery to the Distillery District.

At age 17, I remember taking the subway down to Dundas West Station with my girlfriend (who would eventually become my wife) and walking down Dundas West to Morrow Ave.  This seemed like the least likely place to find contemporary art.  This strip is starting to gentrify now, but back then it really was a no man’s land.  We were encouraged to hunt down Olga Korper Gallery – a place where some of the best art in Toronto was shown —  and still is today — in a beautiful gallery space.  Little did I know then that I would eventually have my home a short walk away from there.

It was these trips to Toronto art galleries which must have inspired my girlfriend and I to take a trip to Europe in the summer between Grade 12 and O.A.C. (when OAC still existed!) to see art.  Our parents gave us the okay without thinking that we might actually save up enough money to make a go of it.  We were very young – I remember inadvertently dropping my passport at Pearson Airport while going to check in.  Luckily my mom was close behind me and she retrieved it.  Our plan was a month long trip:  Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.  We survived and luckily, because we weren’t officially adults, we we able to get into some of the best galleries in the world for free.

Anyhow, this article is not about galleries a thousand kilometres away by plane but about the contemporary art that can be found steps away on St. Helen’s Ave. between College and Bloor streets.  This is a hot new destination for art in Toronto with galleries being outpriced by high end clothing stores on West Queen West; as a result, they are now moving to more unconventional digs, spreading out further north and west in the city.

To me, St. Helen’s was previously just a street on the route to Value Village where we  shopped for cheap toys, books and clothing for the kids or bought halloween costumes and browsed around the used furniture. This street was also my first introduction to a “loft” building where my artist cousin lived.  It was was so bohemian!  Then shortly after, the building was sold off and turned into fancy condos.  St. Helen’s has some nice houses on the east side that face what used to be small warehouses or factories.  Many of these buildings have now been converted into spaces where you can see some of the most interesting art in the city.

It’s fascinating to see how the art scene moves and changes over time and geography.  Take one of the galleries on this St. Helen’s strip for example, TPW (Toronto Photographers Workshop).  They were one of the galleries I used to visit 18 years ago at 80 Spadina.  Since then they moved to the Ossington strip before it was taken over by restaurants and shops, then to a temporary space on Dundas West.  Now they are building a new space here on St. Helen’s Ave.  Their movement through the streets of Toronto tells a history of where the artists and galleries can afford to live.

Gallery hopping for me is either an exhilarating or extremely disappointing affair, similar to a trip to Value Village.  Sometimes you leave empty-handed and sometimes you hit the jackpot.  With the galleries that have moved here you are more likely to find something that will turn on your brain or stimulate the eye.  Visual art is interesting, as it is always an ongoing discussion.  Most of the time, it feels as if you can only really understand bits and pieces of the conversation.  Sometimes, when things come together and you can connect with it, it’s so refreshing, like a swim on a hot summer’s day or the perfect cup of coffee.   And often, that connection comes days or weeks afterwards, when you have that AHA! moment, thinking back and smiling as you step out of the shower or while you are brushing your teeth.


The Galleries


Clint Roenisch Gallery

Address: 190 Saint Helens Avenue
What’s on: Jennifer Murphy and Eli Langer: Caravansary of Joy,  March 20 – April 25, 2015


When did you move here?
 July 10, 2014

Why did you move here?
After 11 years on Queen St I wanted a bigger space and also my former gallery was being knocked down for condos anyway. Plus my colleague Daniel Faria and I used to work together so it was nice to be beside his gallery. And when I saw this space with such great proportions, high ceilings and no columns, I knew it would work well.

What type(s) of work do you show and/or what is your philosophy on the work that you show
I show everything from film, sculpture, drawings, photography, installation and painting. My philosophy is simply that I show the artists I believe in, those whose work I feel has merit and authenticity.


Daniel Faria Gallery

Address: 188 St Helens Avenue
What’s On: Douglas Coupland: Our Modern World,  January 22 – March 21, 2015
Valerie Blass: My Life, March 26 – April 25, 2015



Robert Kananaj Gallery

Address: 172 St Helens Avenue
What’s On: Constans: Descendents13 until 14 March
That Was For This: Sculpture/Installation Thesis Exhibition Series, March 17 to March 28, 2015 (Reception: March 21, 3 – 6 pm)

ENVELOPMENT(S): paths taken and not taken,  April 3rd – 5th, 12 – 5pm (Reception: April 2nd, 7pm – 10pm)

Spring Show Flyer 11 To Print.ai

When did you move here?
We started at this new location; 172 St Helens with the project Void on June 2014, open to the public, since our Third Anniversary of RKG, exhibition July 16, 2014.

Why did you move here?
We moved to this new location for more than one good reason: One, this is much better space than our first space where our gallery was located for three years at Bloor West. Two, it is a new destination to see cluster of exciting galleries providing and supporting unconventional life-giving art projects. The gallery is like any one artist, in quest with the spontaneity and unpredictable directions and methods, sharing with the art-loving public a unique art-experience.

What type(s) of work do you show and/or what is your philosophy on the work that you show?
Our gallery is dedicated to show and promote any artist or fine art that provides a unique art-experience. The gallery and it’s artists celebrate our time as we live it.

 TPW (Toronto Photographers Workshop)

Address: 170 St Helens Avenue
What’s On:  under renovations, opening in the near future.



Scrap Metal Gallery

Address: 11 Dublin St. Unit E.
What’s On: Group Show: Somebody Everybody Nobody until March 28th