By Jacob Hoytema –
Kitchissippi is rich in public art. A person walking along Richmond Road or Wellington West can enjoy murals and sculptures that have over the years become fixtures in the local landscape. The city’s newest public art is as difficult to spot as it is charming. Luckily, Westboro is home to a couple of keen-eyed art connoisseurs who have made it their mission to document this unusual new form of street art.
Charlotte and Karina Dobson, sisters aged 12 and 10 respectively, were walking home from school with a friend last winter when they noticed something strange peeking out from the snow on Richmond Road: a tiny hot-dog in a bun, super-glued to a yellow-brick wall a few feet off the ground. They thought it was interesting, but only later discovered it was part of something bigger.
“Maybe a month later, we found the pecan pie on our way home,” Charlotte says, referring to the miniature dessert glued to the outside of Oh So Good coffeehouse. “Then we started looking for them.”
Once they realized the mini foods were not unique, the girls went on a hunt with their mother, scouring the bricks for more of the tiny clay delicacies. During that search and in the weeks since, they’ve accumulated a list of sixteen tiny hidden foods in Westboro.
Charlotte and Karina form a sort of fan club for this tiny food art project, which arrived in Ottawa last winter and has spread all over the city. The foods, some of which are duplicates (burgers and hot dogs being particularly common) are made of clay and painted with close detail.
The clay-food crafter, who hasn’t revealed his or her identity, plants the ‘minis’ around the city discretely. This anonymity does not mean the artist is entirely silent, however. There’s an Instagram account full of tiny creations (instagram.com/streetartminiature, or SAM for short) that fans can follow.
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As Charlotte and Karina noticed, the mystery artist seems to have fun choosing foods that correspond to the wide variety of businesses in the Westboro community: whether it’s a pie at Oh So Good, a macaron at Quelquechose Pâtisserie, or a carrot (that has since disappeared) at Pure Kitchen vegetarian restaurant.
In an Instagram message to KT, the artist wrote that Westboro is one of their favourite neighbourhoods to return to.
“Westboro is one of the areas where people seem to respect the art and appreciate it,” writes the artist. “Some of the very first minis that I ‘installed’ are still there!”
Charlotte and Karina are no casual fans of the tiny food-maker. Both girls have tried some sculpting in school and at home, and were sharp enough to recognize that the artist uses a “polymer clay.” They’ve also said that the mysterious sculptor has inspired them to someday imitate the unusual craft.
“When we saw these things, the little foods, we thought it was kind of cool, and we wanted to make them ourselves,” says Charlotte.
“Knowing that my project is reaching people of all ages is a really great feeling. I want to add a little fun and surprise to someone’s day,” SAM added.
Map of tiny food finds
The map below is based on Charlotte and Karina’s tiny food finds in Westboro. Locations are approximate because all tiny food detectives should have fun with the search. Happy hunting!
Found some tiny food art in Kitchissippi? Or beyond? Let us know in the comments below.