YOU ARE AT HOME IN BRONTE
Bronte aspires to be a vibrant community where everyone is welcomed and everything you need can be found. Established as a small fishing village, today it is Oakville’s waterfront tourism destination with a robust residential community of 13,000+ people and an evolving commercial district.
Since 2017, the Bronte Business Improvement Area has run a beloved public art installation called At Home in Bronte, which has invited local artists, families and community groups to design and paint Muskoka chairs that are put on display year-round. The 100+ chairs serve as a colourful symbol that is unique to the fabric of Bronte and they continue to serve as a reason for visitors to come to the district.
A simple gesture like seating is key to transforming a place where everyone feels welcome. And public spaces which people feel connected to, actively participate in and are proud of have never been more important to people’s wellbeing.
Visitors are invited to explore our beautiful waterfront and surrounding businesses to check out each uniquely designed chair – there are 100+ chairs to explore! Each one has a hidden lighthouse icon waiting to be discovered. Take a photo of yourself in the chairs and share @BronteEvents on Facebook and @BronteBIA on Instagram.
This program is organized and paid for by the Bronte BIA and its 175+ businesses. It is part of our effort to encourage local residents and visitors to get outdoors, get active and enjoy the colour, vibrancy and charm of Bronte.
Bronte is accessible by bike, car, local public transit and GO train. Read more about how to get here and parking before you head out. Once here, the pathways in the park and district sidewalks are wheelchair, stroller and feet-friendly. We’re proud to partner with the Town of Oakville which maintains plowed pathways in the park. The washroom at Fisherman’s Wharf is open and cleaned year-round.
Congratulations to the Bronte BIA and its partners on receiving funding from the first round of the My Main Street Activator program. The My Main Street Activator program, led by the Canadian Urban Institute, provides support across southern Ontario for local community placemaking projects, including activities, enhancements and policy and capacity building designed to draw visitors and increase local vibrancy. My Main Street is made possible by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Read more.
Meet the Artists
Since 2017, the At Home in Bronte project has invited local residents, businesses and community groups to come together to design and create hand painted Muskoka chairs for display in Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park.
Read the profiles of these talented artists below.
Risini Attanayake is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. The inspiration for her chair design comes from the colourful and vibrant atmosphere in Bronte Village. The warm toned buildings, the peaceful blue sky and the clouds are subtly shaped like fish to represent the harbour.
Emilia Frias is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. Her chair design is a celebration of nature. She wanted to focus on the beauty that is around us so often, but we may not always have the time to appreciate it as much as we want to. The chair is a tribute to the beautiful water and trees in Bronte.
Amie Lee is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Crafts & Design – Ceramics program. The tessellated pattern proposed for the chair design is composed of a fish symbol that evokes the town’s history as a fishing village. As a thriving commercial fishing harbour, Bronte was able to provide sustenance for its original inhabitants and a livelihood for people after the European settlement.
Galen Lau is a first-year student in the Crafts & Design – Furniture program at Sheridan College. Born and raised in Ontario, Galen enjoys all forms of craft and design, as well as cooking, gardening, and fitness. According to the Friends of Bronte Creek Park, some of the significant plant species in Bronte include Sassafras and Sycamore trees, Black-eyed Susans, and Trilliums – which are the four plants Galen has incorporated into his design.
Shahed Abu Aziz is a student in Sheridan’s Craft & Design – Industrial Design program. Inspiration for her chair design comes from pictures she has taken while being out on the water with her family, in their boat that is housed in the Bronte Marina. The sound of a boat’s engine, the breeze flowing through her hijab, the blue skies, and water wrapped around her so that she does not see anything but the heavenly scenery, all contributed to her design.
Yunlin Shan is a recent graduate of Sheridan’s Craft & Design – Textiles. In her chair design, she was seeking to capture a moment of seaside scenery and paint it as an image that describes the process as a hermit crab forages for food on the cobblestones, while the background shows a sense of eternal meditation, represented by a muted color palette. A colorful hermit crab is sitting as an ‘ah ha’ surprise, somewhere in the chair.
Thomas Paik is a mature student in his first year of Sheridan’s Bachelor of Crafts & Design – Ceramics program, returning to post-secondary education after a 26-year career. Sunrises have always been inspirational to him, as he feels they symbolize new beginnings and hope. Sunrises are some of the most glorious sights in the world and showcasing a beautiful Bronte Harbour sunrise on a Muskoka chair is striking because the vibrant colours used in his design work well with the slatted features of the chair.
Em McDonald is an emerging glass artist from Georgetown, Ontario, who recently received a degree from the Craft & Design – Glass program at Sheridan College. Em is now a Resident Artist at the Living Arts Centre and monitor in Sheridan’s Glass studio where they continue to further their artistic practice and teach. Inspiration for their design is twofold, both the natural beauty of Oakville and the diversity of its citizens. The leaves and animals demonstrate the variety of wildlife that can be seen in town, and the abundance of green space to enjoy. Ever since moving to Oakville, Em has enjoyed walking on its many paths to search for frogs, squirrels, and fireflies. Making the leaves a rainbow of colours is a nod to Oakville’s diversity.
Hazel Mann is a student in Sheridan’s Craft & Design – Textiles program. Hazel is using the beautiful flower baskets in Bronte as the inspiration for her chair design. In particular, she finds the array of purples, blues, and lilacs to be visually attractive. The background of yellow provides a lovely contrast to the purples, as well as a reflection of the sunny, yellow bedding plants that have also been used.
Morgan Hordyk is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Craft & Design – Textiles program. Experimenting with different art mediums, she explores the interaction of colour and shape to create playful patterns. This chair is designed with the goal of bringing bright colours to a space where colour in nature might be scarce in the winter months.
Originally from London Ontario, Veronica Sarata is a second-year Craft & Design – Ceramics student at Sheridan College. Her chair design was inspired by the native fish in Ontario. Using fishing as the activity, she plays with perspective by incorporating the lighthouse to give the viewer a sense of how close they are to the shore, while they can still see the line and land above the water, as well as the hooks and fish below the water.
Maya Belakova is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. The design of the chair is inspired by the beautifully diverse local flora of Ontario. The flowers depicted are Aster, Milkweed, Anise Hyssop and Bee Balm. The natural colours of the flowers feel welcoming and the yellow sun fills a gloomy day with brightness.
Jasper Ashley is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. Over the summer, they spent a lot of time watching the frogs at the swamp near their house. This inspired them to do something similar in the design of their chair, along with their love of frogs and warm colours.
Natalie Redmann is a student in Sheridan’s Craft & Design – Glass program. Her design is inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose”, a short story about how a man’s nose runs off and has its own little adventure. This popular story got turned into a popular opera by Dmitri Shostakovich. It’s fun composition and use of instruments makes the story come to life. Natalie wanted this chair to have the influences of “The Nose,” and added spastic streaming of red ribbons running through the chair to make it come to life.
Kate Jackson is an instructor in many programs within Sheridan’s Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design and Head of Multidisciplinary Studies for the Craft & Design program. Her own art practice investigates patterns found in non-traditional materials such as paper towel, facial tissue, and breakfast cereal. Inspired by the history of the Bronte harbour, this chair is wrapped in a cozy blanket of colour and pattern to resemble a vintage scallop wave quilt.
Mahum Farooqui is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. For her design, she wanted to capture a deep underwater theme and to present a worm’s eye view of a floating anchor. The gradient of light to dark signifies a lot of space and openness, while the addition of an abstract element along with blending some of the edges add to the fluidity of the chair.
Julia Roden is a fourth-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Design – Furniture program. As the older sister to three siblings, family if very important to Julia, and they often serve as an inspiration for her projects. The sentiment for her chair design is “sailor’s delight.” This is Julia’s second year participating in the At Home in Bronte project, and she is proud to contribute her creativity for all to enjoy.
Benjamin Hamilton calls Seattle, Washington home, and is currently a student in second year of Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. His chair depicts a warm winter scene populated with leafless trees. A banner runs around and over the branches, adding a splash of fall/winter color to an otherwise quiet background. The design was inspired by the deciduous trees that sets Ontario apart from his hometown on the west coast. Winter in Ontario has a very specific feeling to it, and the barren trees against white winter skies describe it well.
Mallory Gresch is a contemporary multimedia artist from Thunder Bay. She is a graduate of Sheridan’s Visual and Creative Arts program and is currently enrolled in its Craft & Design – Ceramics program. Her trio of chairs offers a glimpse into her creative mind. Inspiration for her designs includes the common gull that is a staple to any harbourfront or body of water, Oakville’s massive population of majestic oak trees, and fish species like rainbow trout, that are native to both Oakville and Thunder Bay.
Maximilian Baranek is second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. As a person who’s lived in and around the GTA his whole life, he believes that nothing can truly be compared to the crispness of the air and the colors of the sky in the morning on the lake. His chair design hopes to capture both, along with his timeless memories.
Alexander Fusco is a second-year student in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program. His chair’s design pays tribute to the art of doodling, inspired by an artist named Mr. Doodle and an animator named Cas Van de Pol. There are many messages and easter eggs hidden in his chair, that create a pleasing pattern when seen together. The doodles range from cartoon characters to famous paintings, and from film characters to the lighthouse logo. The spacing in between the doodles is all relatively the same and the background is completely white. The doodles are done using a thick line that does not change in size, and each doodle has its own colour, apart from the small doodles which are all done in black.
Richmond Hill native Sydney Stobo is studying in the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. Through her design, Sydney was able to combine her love of nature and her favourite colours, while paying tribute to Oakville’s history as the Strawberry Capital of Canada. The whimsical style and soft palette remind Sydney of the sights, sounds, and fragrances of the first strawberry picking of the summer.
Nancy Xu is in her first year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. Nancy enjoys mixing digital media with analogue photography to explore themes of uncomfortable nostalgia. Despite her chair design, Nancy has never actually gone fishing.
Lindsey Ainsworth is in her first year of the Honours Bachelor of Craft & Design – Furniture program at Sheridan College. Lindsey is a life-long maker who enjoys all sorts of craft, but especially loves working with wood and textiles, using reclaimed materials wherever she can. For her chair design, Lindsey explored Bronte’s marine heritage through the lens of a colouring book, where playful fish dodge in and out of the waves.
Sydni Weatherson is in her fourth year of the Honours Bachelor of Crafts and Design – Glass program at Sheridan College. Her time in the studio is spent focusing on blown glass as well as engraving. Her current work looks to capture the fluidity of the glass during the making process, exploring colour, texture, and movement frozen in time. For her chair design, she drew inspiration from her life growing up in Bronte. The chair is adorned with the common winter birds for the area, and other common sights. The icy blue backdrop is reminiscent of the cloudless winter sky, contrasting with the bright red berries, and the dark, glittering lake.
Taylor Blais is in her second year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. Her areas of focus are wardrobe, props, and paint. The knowledge she gained from the program’s scenic painting course was utilized in her Victorian wallpaper inspired chair design.
Lara Campbell is a first year Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program student at Sheridan College. She was thrilled to have this opportunity to experiment with colour, lines and shapes, and ultimately settled on a vivid and powerful design for her chair. Inspired heavily by Roy Lichtenstein, her goal was to pay homage to the iconic pop art style while adding her own flair. She learned a lot during the painting process and is grateful to have had the opportunity to create something she is proud of.
Lily Chang is enrolled in the Bachelor of Craft and Design – Industrial Design program at Sheridan College. The inspiration for their chair design was inspired by a camping trip. The sky was clear, and you could see all the stars at night even with the light from the roaring fire.
Julia Roden is a woodworker and glass artist from Mississauga, Ontario, currently in her third year of the Honours Bachelor of Crafts and Design – Furniture program at Sheridan College. She designs and fabricates a wide variety of household furniture pieces and smaller finer wooden pieces. In addition, she blows glass and has experience in flameworking.
As a child, Julia often visited Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park with her family, as did her mother and uncle during their childhood. Julia has used the memories she created to influence the designs painted on her chairs. She used bright colors and fun shapes to put a smile on people’s faces when they visit Bronte. She painted her chair with memories in mind and hopes that people who see her chair will take a moment and appreciate the small joys in life.
Isie Yang (she/her) is currently enrolled in the first year of the Honours Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College. She creates visual art using a range of different mediums, which often intersect with each other. Currently, she enjoys using graphite, coloured pencil, and water colours in her work. Her chair design explores the theme of camping and nature, using bright and contrasting colours to catch the viewers’ attention. Isie’s work is often recognized by its vibrant colours and organic shapes, which she decided to incorporate in her chair to make it stand out.
Hyunmin Kim is currently enrolled in the Honours Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College. Hyunmin painted an illustration with a graphic design feeling on the chair using only two colours by adjusting their value. The design is inspired by Canada’s seasonal and topographical features and will blend in particularly well during winter.
Eve Diemand is a second year Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program student at Sheridan College and a props maker from Stratford, Ontario. They enjoy creating works of art of all kinds, but always enjoy the mystical and fantasy aspect of life. Their goal is to make creations for any and all to enjoy.
Decklan Page is a visual artist in his second year in the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. Decklan works in a wide variety of artistic mediums; anything from sculpture, paint, digital art, and more. Decklan designed his chair based on his love for tropical plants, rainforests, and tacky Hawaiian print shirts, of which he has a large collection. The colour palette chosen for his chair painting was designed to be as vibrant and lively as a tropical jungle, while using flashy colours reminiscent of his favourite shirts.
Colin Welsh is a costume and prop technician from Muskoka, currently studying in the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. He has a passion for working with intricate projects and creating mechanisms that add that little bit of magic to the theatre arts. Colin also loves to use aging and faux finish paint techniques to add illusion and depth to his creations. This can be seen in his chair which depicts a sunken treasure chest.
Steven Botelho is a Milton based Illustrator who painted a total of 4 chairs for the At Home exhibit. Steven writes and illustrates children’s books and his latest book is based off his children’s puppet show that centers around mental health.
In his chairs series, “the 4 elements”, Steven wanted to share his love of nature and connection to what is important to him. Wind, earth, fire, and water, all elements that are essential for survival, but also our connection to the divine.
Steven is a Sheridan college graduate and from there has built a career teaching all forms of art: puppetry, directing, illustrating, needle felting and so much more. You can see some of his work on @feltingspace and @ourspacesafespace.
Sisters, Evalani and Kaia Ohata, wanted to bring awareness about the shortage of bees in the world through the design of their chair. It showcases flowers, which help to sustain life for butterflies and bees and aims to highlight the importance these creatures play in our environment. Evalani attends high school in Burlington and loves music and visual arts. Every evening, she spends hours in her art studio painting. Kaia attends elementary school in Burlington and loves drawing and sketching portraits and spending time in nature.
Hannah Kaatz enjoys creating geometric and botanical patterns and often plays with various forms and textures in her designs. In her At Home chair, Hannah painted a cheerful and vibrant landscape home to a flock of geese, which reflects her love of bright colours and nature. An artist from Burlington, Ontario, she is currently studying in the Honours Bachelor of Craft and Design – Textiles program at Sheridan College.
Griffin Hebert painted their chair in a design based on the pattern of a koi pond. Their art usually comes in a colour-block style, which they implemented into their design. They hope it invokes feelings of calm and tranquility with its pastel colours and simple design. Griffin is a graphic artist from Nova Scotia who is studying in the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College.
Ireland Boylan is an artisan from the Ottawa Valley studying Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry at Sheridan College. She enjoys various forms of art such as photography, music, and crafts. She takes her inspiration from the great Canadian wildlife and landscape near where she grew up and likes to use vibrant, deep colours in her art, which are showcased in her chair design.
Evan Reid is in his first year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry Program at Sheridan College. He hopes his chair encourages people to find joy in small moments.
Claudia Smith is in her second year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College and previously studied architecture at the University of Toronto. Her chair design is inspired by her life-long fascination with astronomy and represents the natural harmony between day and night, sun and moon, and light and dark that make up our daily lives.
Robin Ritter is a mixed-media artist, specializing in hot glass sculpture and illustration. She is currently studying in the Honours Bachelor of Craft and Design – Glass program at Sheridan College. Being raised in Ontario and visiting Georgian Bay while growing informed her imagery. Recurring subject matter in Robin’s work are real and imagined characters, as well as symbols of comfort and childhood. Being inspired by nostalgia and storybooks, Robin creates cute and colourful narrative artwork.
Jiaying Xu is a third-year Honours Bachelor of Craft and Design –
Glass student at Sheridan College. With assistance from Zhouquan Peng, she
created a chair with a symbol that represents one thing everyone nowadays can’t
without: the Internet. People may be attracted by the WiFi symbol and come
closer to the chair, however, there is no WiFi to be found, only life and
nature. It reminds people what they truly rely upon to live: great nature.
Kiren McNeice is in their second year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. They based their chair design concept on the wide range of natural wonders in Canada and the beauty of an evening sunset. In their free time, Kiren enjoys making elaborate costumes and props for their own use as well as for others in the community. They are pursuing a career in prop-making, costuming, and scenic paint for film, television, and theatre.
Ziggy Philpott is in his second year of the Technical Production for the Performing Arts Industry program at Sheridan College. Ziggy enjoys spending his time painting and sculpting. This year, his focuses are scenic art, props, and carpentry. His chair design was based on a series of paintings he created, meant to look similar to his favourite childhood candy, Jawbreakers. He wanted to have fun with the design and create something colourful that would catch the eye of those walking by.
Alex Bromaroff is a first-year student in the Honours Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College who enjoys portraiture and mediums of all kinds. From Port Elgin, Ontario, she painted a harbour-themed chair for the At Home in Bronte: Winter 2021 installation. Coming from a harbour-side town herself, she wanted to celebrate the fresh, breath-taking beauty of the lake and harbour and commemorate it through her pastel, airy colours. The storytelling of the chair comes through as it brings the spark and excitement of visiting Bronte Village.
Dawn-Angela Seeley is a fine artist from Oakville who painted 5 chairs for the art installation. She paints in traditional styles of realism and impressionism in a purist form by mixing from 3 primary colours. Dawn-Angela loves painting plein air or outside as much as possible and teaching summer camps on location at the Oakville Harbour. Harbours are really her thing!
Shennel Thomas is an abstract artist from Brampton who painted ten chairs in the art show. Her series uses a fluid art style to illustrate aspects of Bronte that stood out to her. This Spring she chose represent the sun, trails, Lake Ontario, rainbows and Spring itself. The fluid art technique allows colours to be swirled together to create art that both complements the other chairs in the exhibit while also standing out and telling a story of their own.
Laura Marotta is a sculptor from Hamilton who painted 3 chairs for the Summer 2021 installation. Laura creates both large- and small-scale sculptures. Her practice is based in geometry and modular constructions. In her chair series, Laura specifically chose a polygon pattern as it relates back to her own practice of working with geometric shapes. She looks to reflect her love of pattern and colour in her chair designs. The colour scheme for her chairs represents spring and are sure to catch viewers’ eyes.
Myriam Suarez is a visual artist and early childhood educator initially from Mexico City and currently residing in Niagara. Myriam painted 5 chairs for the summer exhibit. In her chair series, Myriam looks to express her Mexican and South American roots. For example, her design elements are influenced by Talavera, Huichol and Loteria. She made one chair to express the inclusion and equality in Canada, pushing the idea that art makes us one. She also made a chair to symbolize Bronte and its beautiful harbour.
Leslie Phelan painted 20 chairs in her chair series “Birds and Beasts of Bronte,” which looks to celebrate the local wildlife in the area. She is a proud former Oakville resident and has done previous mural work in our very own Bronte. If you observe her chairs closely, you can see that on each arm chair has either a paw-print or something related to the animal.
Rafia Shafiq is a craft artist from Oakville who painted five chairs. Although she specializes in embroidery art, she was able to translate her experience with colorful designs to a large-scale paint project and represent aspects of Bronte in a bold way. Her chairs depict iconic parts of Bronte, making them feel right at home in the exhibit. She painted the chairs while also running her full-time craft business and taking care of her daughter.
Sarah Skrlj, a Toronto-based artist, painted ten chairs. Sarah’s chairs convey three themes: the streets of Bronte, wildlife in the area, and the land and sea that make Bronte so unique and beautiful. Sarah specializes in patterned and mural art, telling stories through patterns and use of colour. After doing art on the side her whole life, Sarah decided it was truly her calling and went full-time last year.
Patrick Hunter is a two-spirit, Ojibwe, Woodland artist from Red Lake, Ontario who painted five chairs for the winter exhibit. In his series, Patrick tries to evoke the soul and spirit of the artwork – placing less emphasis on reality and more emphasis on the spiritual realm. His intent is to create awareness of Indigenous iconography. His work is inspired by traditional Woodland artists as well as the Canadian Group of Seven.
Robert Paterson is a freelance illustrator from Toronto. He painted five chairs in his series called “Faces of Bronte,” that explores the evolution of Bronte, not only the physical landscape, but also the people growing together alongside it. His designs take inspiration from music and old movie posters, which help set the tone of his work.