The Gateway

A colourful procession of woven arches stretch across The Bentway’s Skate Trail, bringing the northern lights into the city. Inspired by the natural phenomenon of the aurora borealis and the role of weaving in their cultures, Canadian artistic duo Yi Zhou and Carlos Portillo’s installation The Gateway accentuates the monumental architecture of the Gardiner with vibrant hues of green, blue, violet, and magenta. 

Referencing the dynamic movement of people and light across the skating trail and The Bentway itself, the Expressway’s large columns come alive as visitors move beneath them, the ethereal colours mixing, mingling, and dancing overhead. The Gateway evokes the movement and magic of the northern lights across the sky, which are most vibrant during the dark winter months. The many strands of jewel-toned cords that interlace pay tribute to the diversity of vibrant cultures and peoples that make up Toronto. 

The Gateway weaves together art, natural phenomena, the built environment, and community encounters. Like the aurora borealis, the work infuses the space with new intimacy and inspires wonder, reminding us that we are all connected by the city we live in, the winter climate we encounter, and by shared experiences in public space. 

The Gateway was selected from nation-wide call for submissions with the support of The Bentway Arts Advisory. Two free public workshops hosted at The Bentway Studio will further explore The Gateway’s approaches to material, astronomical phenomena, and community connection. 

Winner: DesignTO 2024 Juror’s Choice Award (awarded by juror, Kendra Jackson)

See accompanying workshop program:

What to expect

  • A series of six gateways (arches), woven from colorful paracord installed overhead on The Bentway Skate Trail during the winter season. 
  • The installation is viewable from accessible outdoor locations at the Skate Trail. 
  • The installation will be illuminated at night with a special light display.

Project Team

  • Engineering: Blackwell 
  • Fabrication: Steel & Oak Designs



Commissioned by The Bentway.