October 1 – 30, 2022

Inspired by the water systems that have shaped Toronto, Confluence invited visitors to flow through an engrossing convergence of natural and human-made forces. The picnic table, a familiar fixture in parks across the city, contorts into a dynamic sculptural installation; twirling, cascading and cresting to evoke Toronto’s buried, lost rivers.

Wooden picnic tables reassembled into a large overarching structure inside an open space room.
Striped Canary’s Confluence (2022) opens to the public as part of Nuit Blanche. Toronto, ON. Photo by Jack Landau.

Building on the success of their inaugural co-presentation in 2021, The Bentway and Exhibition Place teamed up again to welcome visitors to a rarely-seen space “behind the concrete” with a new large-scale art commission, set inside a massive storage chamber under the Gardiner Expressway.

Created by Maine-based artist duo Striped Canary (Stephen B. Nguyen and Wade Kavanaugh), Confluence ran October 1 to 30, 2022.

Inspired by the water systems that have shaped Toronto, Confluence examines the relationship between natural and industrial infrastructure. Named for the junction of rivers, as well as the process of coming together, this immersive new work sets the stage for the meeting of architecture and art, public and private spaces, as well as visitors from across the city.

The picnic table, a familiar fixture and symbol of public space, performs in new ways in this sculptural installation. A seemingly endless series of tables gradually break apart and take on new forms, smoothing hard edges into gentle waves, evoking the flow of the many waterways which at one time flowed through the city on their way to Lake Ontario. Confluence reminds us that since colonisation, this natural infrastructure—which was dammed, channelled or buried and incorporated into the city’s sewer system—has been irreparably shaped by urban development, and calls for a new balance; between natural and human-made forces, spaces for gathering and for movement, the present and the past, the hidden and the seen.

Amidst these twisting and undulating wooden forms that crest and dive into the concrete architecture, and surrounded by a sound field created by Anne Bourne, the visitor is invited to wander and reflect on how humans have shaped nature, how our urban landscape has changed over time, and how the built and natural worlds can meaningfully co-exist in the future.

See this space in its raw “before” state:

Working with TAS Impact’s Robert Raynor and North of Sixty, sustainability was embedded into the production process. A partnership with Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, as well as a collaboration with The Bentway’s site team, ensured that all materials were repurposed, from 38,000 linear feet of wood right down to the screws used in the installation.

complementary content

Light shining on large wooden sculptural installation.
sound field: nearshore

Nearshore was a one hour long multi-channel spatialized sound installation created by Anne Bourne as a “soundfield” that accompanied a sculptural installation by Striped Canary.

The Confluences of Confluence by Shawn Micallef

The ground we walk on in Toronto is untrustworthy. Was it left here by the glaciers as they retreated or altered by the thousands of years of human activity that have taken place here?

Picnic Table on the River by Matthew Hickey

The picnic table has provided a place for all of these things to most anyone who grew up in what we now call Canada.


Project Team

Artists: Striped Canary (Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen)
Artist Assistants: Daniel Antonucci, Christine Dewancker, Stacey Feldman, Layne Hinton, Jasmin Liu, and Pamela Nelson
Lighting Designer: Melissa Joakim
Essays by: Matthew Hickey and Shawn Micallef
With thanks to the Toronto Field Naturalists and Lost Rivers, Shane Fine at Phase 3, and Robert Raynor



  • Exhibition Place

Presenting Partners

  • The Hilary & Galen Weston Foundation ​
  • ​Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund
  • ​Government of Canada


  • The McLean Foundation
  • ​J.P. Bickell Foundation