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Thunder Bay Gateways

figureground studio | Jyhling Lee
6.5'h (2m) x 16.5'l (5m) per sign
Laser cut steel, sandblasted and powder-coated
November 2011
Locations: Hwy 11/17, Hwy 61 and Thunder Bay International Airport

 Boats in Lake Superior1  Solar Panels

The intent of the Thunder Bay Gateways project was to provide highly visible, environmentally sustainable, and aesthetically attractive entrance signs to the City of Thunder Bay. Three signs, created by Saskatoon-based artist Jyhling Lee of figureground studio, welcome travellers entering the City at Highway 11/17, Highway 61 and through the Thunder Bay International Airport. The Gateways, entitled Boats on Lake Superior, Northern Lights, and Boreal Forest, speak to the cultural uniqueness of the community and enhance visitors' first impressions of the City. 

Each sign celebrates the city’s most iconic landmark, the Sleeping Giant, which was voted the People’s Choice in CBC’s Seven Wonders of Canada campaign. The imagery reinforces the City's “Superior by Nature” slogan and is consistent with the region’s popularity as a natural tourism and adventure destination. Lee has stated:

When viewed from the City of Thunder Bay, the rock formation known as the Sleeping Giant creates a remarkable silhouette against the skyline of Lake Superior. The silhouette of the Sleeping Giant establishes [the competition's] theme and also establishes the artistic technique of silhouette.

The artistic intent is to create a figure-ground condition within each Gateway where the surrounding landscape is clearly visible through the perforated areas. The appearance of the Gateway will change with the seasons, and over the course of the day; at one time it will frame the brilliant colours of autumn, at another the sky during sunset will be outlined by the silhouette of the Sleeping Giant.

Project coordination was provided by the City's Tourism Division through the Clean, Green & Beautiful Committee, in close communication with the Ministry of Transportation Corridor Management office. Funding for the design, fabrication and installation was provided by the Clean, Green & Beautiful Committee which also funded the solar lighting system for each sign.

 Boreal Forest1 

Northern Lights1