Drawn to the Flame

Drawn to the Flame

Drawn to the Flame

Embedded in the Canadian psyche are the romanticized icons of a canoe and a campfire, Drawn to the Flame fuses these two images.

From afar, Drawn to the Flame appears to be a large bonfire on the shores of Lake Ontario. Closer inspection reveals six red canoes rising like giant logs to shape into a campfire form. From within their hull, the warm and comforting glow of flames dance playfully, an unusual blaze inviting contemplation on the connection between a fire and canoe.

There is perhaps no more primal connecting force, than the beach-side campfire and its warm embrace, fostering comfort, conversation, and laughter. This, however, is an unusual blaze inviting a contemplation on the connections between a fire and a canoe.  Why is this beloved vessel ablaze?

The canoe has a long history as a utilitarian Indigenous technology. Shared with early colonial settlers, it provided them with unprecedented access to the farthest reaches of the land. As the canoe travelled outward like a spreading fire, it initiated a historical legacy of resource extraction and displacement. Like fire, Drawn to the Flame ignites thought as it presents an alternative view of this iconic craft.


  • John Notten
    John Notten

    John Notten is a Toronto-based contemporary artist and educator. The immersive and interactive installations he creates offer a radical shift in the meanings of mundane objects and materials, while addressing issues directly related to sites and the communities that occupy them. Notten’s practice addresse’s themes of community history and interactivity. Recently, his work has reimagined the artifacts of the ‘weekend getaway’ (canoes, Muskoka chairs, tents etc.), interrogating their alternate meanings in the context of Canadian history. As a perpetual educator, his hope is to foster ideas and awareness in an accessible way through interactivity and the aesthetic of play. Within the public realm, Notten’s art has been created with the goal of facilitating the energetic spirit of neighbourhoods, building community, and encouraging dialogue.