In the Studio: Brad Tinmouth

Photos by Aaron Wynia, text by Jess Carroll


Jess: (upon entering Brad Tinmouth’s studio/bungalow, the artist hovering over his stove, stirring a pot): What’s for dinner?

Brad: Wood sealer. (beat) You want some water?

It’s revealing, this short interaction, typifying a number of personality tropes of Tinmouth, a Toronto-based artist whose work has run the gamut of mediums from film to graffiti to internet trolling to his current installation work that deals with building elaborate systems for growing plants. He’s boyish and charmingly irreverent, well-mannered and ambitious. He’s also a research hound who can speak for as long about permaculture (the ecological design system/ideology that heavily influences his current work) as he can about a limited edition pair of Nike foamposites that he’s thinking about buying. Tinmouth, evidently, takes his interests seriously, and when entering his home (which doubles as his studio space) you can always tell what he’s working on. Now that he’s working with plants, there is well-kept plant-life in his living room, kitchen, bedroom and backyard garden, as an extension of his heavily populated studio–a space that is teeming with life, after a project in which he bought the plants from Canada’s House of Commons when their care was taken out of the country’s budget.

Yet, he’s one of those rare obsessives whose work isn’t self-referential; he has a genuine interest in educating his viewers to live better, more sustainably, and realize the benefits of understanding plant life. For instance, his new work, to be shown at Toronto’s 8-11, a system with self-regulating watering and air pruning plants, incorporates visuals as well as smells. The construction is made with treated cedar wood, and the included edibles–an orange tree, a fig tree, basil, etc.–are meant to infuse the space with smell, for a multi-sensory experience.

It’s kind of like he’s managed to successfully merge work and life.

Brad: I wake up every morning and look at [my plants] and I feel happy.