Toronto Through My Lens

“Uniform, Measure, Stack”

At 438 Richmond Street West, on the northwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street West, there is an intriguing bronze sculpture by artist Stephen Cruise. Created in 1997, the piece is entitled Uniform, Measure, Stack. The sculpture consists of a thimble, buttons and markings of a tape measure which wraps around the northwest corner of Richmond Street West and Spadina Avenue (please ignore the vandal tagging and snow on the artwork!).

The sculpture was created to commemorate the surrounding area of the city that was once the textile factory district. Even with the Toronto Eaton Centre just blocks away, this area once housed a majority of the textile factories that would produce products for the mega-distributor. As textile production moved out of the city, these factory spaces were re-purposed into artist studios. Now, the neighbourhood has transformed again and condo developments dominate the area.

The piece’s artist, Stephen Cruise, has this to say about his creation:

Spadina has an incredible history that goes back to when workers walked out of Eaton’s in 1905 I believe, on strike for better conditions. And they decided to reorganize themselves and they moved out and moved in and along Spadina Avenue.

So, I guess in thinking about some of the research, it did direct me to what it was that could make up the components of this sculpture. And that is to keep it very simple. And what making a garment is all about draws back to one’s hands. It’s… it’s not so much even the machine, it’s choosing the thimble and choosing the buttons and hand sewing. It’s something that would draw you back to more the personal aspect of it so – I tried to keep the tools as simple as possible and…

Unfortunately, I think, it was a beginning of a foothold for so many people who moved on and with the competitive nature and pressures from offshore it’s become next to impossible to be able to provide that opportunity. And as much as the street signs have the additional text to them, saying “fashion district,” in another short period of time it’s going to be just a memory. So the stacking of the buttons and placing the thimble atop it, trying to create some kind of setting with trees that would mature over time, there still was very much this thought that I was creating something as a memory. So it’s evidence of what once was a colourful past, but at the same time it’s what something once was.

3 Comments

  1. Bob K

    I like this sculpture. I am less worried about the Fashion District, or any other area, losing their character. In a city that is growing and changing like Toronto is, neighbourhoods change character and purpose all the time. It might be sad to see the old go, but it’s an ongoing, inevitable process.

    • Marvin Job

      I totally agree, Bob. Toronto is always in flux, especially the last few years.

  2. David

    A little unusual but seems apt for that part of town.

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