Bruno Billio's pied-à-terre in Toronto's Gladstone Hotel, where he has lived for the last seven years as artist-in-residence, functions as both showroom (it's filled with the 40-year-old's arresting installations) and salon. "It's a very tiny place - only 316 square feet," says Billio, who, standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, dominates the space when he's in it. "The core of my home is the living/dining room, where I entertain guests as part of what I call my artist dinners. I can actually seat four comfortably and, when we talk about art and ideas, the room doesn't feel small at all."
THE NEON LIGHTING: "This was from a collaboration I did for the Come Up to My Room project, one of the Gladstone art shows instigated by Gladstone president Christina Zeidler. Orest Tataryn is a well-known neon artist and he and I worked together to create this flowing light installation for this room. All the blues and greens are glass tubes made in Murano, so that's a touch of me, as I'm of Italian heritage."
THE DINING ROOM SET: "There's this fantastic consignment shop on Bayview Avenue called The Elegant Garage Sale and I bought this dining room set - including six upholstered chairs and a china cabinet, all polished wood - for about $1,000 there. I like the scale of the table, which is elegant but masculine. The chairs are sturdy, which is good, because I have so many people over. It's insane: Between 4,000 and 5,000 people a year come through my home and my chairs often fall apart."
THE BOOK TOWER: "These are stacked books as sculpture, which has become my trademark. They're random volumes of hardcover books that have the spines or exposed pages covered in black binding tape. I like the combination of colour, texture and random subject matter the books represent."
THE FIREPLACE: 'The mantel is something I found on my aunt's street, Trout Brook Drive, 25 years ago. It's been the foundation of a lot of my sculpture and installation pieces. On it here is a maquette under glass of a canoe that was part of the Venice Biennale, a show called Reverse Pedagogy, featuring a variety of Canadian artists. The fur hat in the grate belonged to my mother. It's from the 1970s. I wore it on a trip to New York once and was invited to the best parties and dinners because of that hat. People love it and I just love it, too."
THE PAINTING: I found the painting above the fireplace in the trash on King Street in 1994. It's a painting of the Don River, circa 1945.Report Typo/Error