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by Christopher Mudiappahpillai

I logged into my Yahoo! Mail account this morning (I only use it for registration type e-mail) and found a newsletter from House of Anansi Press touting a new book by Terry Murry called Faces on Places: A Grotesque Tour of Toronto.

The blurb on the site reads:

Look up . . . way up . . . and in Toronto, what do you see?

If you look with Terry Murray, you’ll see beyond glass and steel and stone to spy Gargoyles, Griffins, Dragons, Angels, Portraits of Important Personages (and Caricatures of those same folk). A fascinating world of mythical and historical persons and icons has been watching over the city and its inhabitants for centuries, but few Torontonians even know of its existence.

Journalist Murray has spent the past decade scouring the city for “faces on places” and photographing the stone denizens of more than sixty Toronto buildings. Her quest has been to do more than simply find and capture the “faces”; she has also interviewed architects, stone carvers, and building occupants, as well as scouring archives for original architectural plans, to discover who these creatures are, and why they exist where they do.

Faces on Places is organized thematically by type of sculpture and contains street addresses and maps for suggested walking tours. With an elegant design and a size that fits in a large pocket as easily as on a coffee table, this is a book that can be perused for pleasure or used as a reliable guide to the city’s most silent and intriguing “citizens.”

This, I think, is absolutely fantastic – I’ll have to pick up a copy.

And it’s actually the perfect inspiration for something similar that I’ve begun to do, albeit on a much smaller scale, with the carvings inside UofT’s University College.

"Sandy"

Carvings like the above – only about five inches in diameter – can be found in “West Hall” and on the lintels of many of the doors throughout the building.

And I’m going to photograph/document every single one.