If you’ve been at Bathurst and Lawrence or at the Ferry Docks, you’ve likely seen some of Cristina Delago’s mosaic work. And come September, you’ll be able to admire her latest mosaic project at the Coxwell TTC and Toronto Parking Authority properties on the Danforth.
Cristina grew up in a small village in the Italian Alps. She came to Toronto to attend the Ontario College of Art & Design…and never left. She and her husband originally lived in Cabbagetown, but when they decided to start a family, they moved to Leaside, 27 years ago.
They wanted to move to a safe neighbourhood with good schools. Cristina and her husband found a bungalow on Parkhurst in the block between Hanna and Rumsey, which her husband then turned into the two-storey house they now enjoy. Their son attended Northlea, Bessborough and Leaside High.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the city,” says Cristina, who enjoys being able to walk in the neighbourhood.
Cristina’s original artistic love was handcrafted tiles and architectural elements. Over the past nine years, she’s also become enamoured of mosaic work. She has a huge collection of tiles, broken china and other recycled pieces that she uses to “create something beautiful.”
For the Danforth project, spearheaded by East End Arts, she will be supervising 10 young people with artistic skills. Half come from the neighbourhood, and she has recruited the others from other parts of the city. This mural is 8 feet tall and 180 feet long, with three walls with themes representing the past, present and future. The Leaside Aerodrome will be featured, as well as a quote by Agnes Macphail: “We face all our trouble alone.” She feels that “art brings healing,” especially “in little neighbourhoods that have issues.” For this particular project, she’ll be using a lot of mirror materials to “make it lively and bright.”
Local young people may get an opportunity to work with her too. The Ontario Art Council offers a program called “Artist in Education”. Cristina is on their roster, and is much in demand to work with students, usually in grades 5, 6 and 7, to help them create a small version of a mosaic mural. Recently, she was at Maurice Cody on the west side of Bayview.
For Cristina, the projects are not all large, public installations. She still takes on commissions for homes and businesses for her colourful hand-made tiles.