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Bruno Billio’s tree. (Photos by Ryan Emberley)

For 26 years, Toronto’s Gardiner Museum has hosted an unofficial kick-off to the holiday season. Their G Party has seen local designers trim a dozen trees in a typical fashion; this year, though, things changed. The humble Christmas tree has been reimagined in a more modern light by 12 Canadian creatives, and their work will be on display until Jan. 3, 2016. Curated by architect and interior designer Dee Dee Eustace, who came dressed as an ornament for the occasion, the works were spread over the three floors of Canada’s national museum for ceramics, and ranged from wacky and wonderful to magnificently minimal, all exploring the 2015 theme: The Joy of Creativity.

Jane Waterous’s tree.

On the main floor is a show-stopping neon light tree framed in slick black Plexiglas by Jane Waterous. One floor up in the museum’s European porcelain galleries, Jenn E. Norton’s vision for Christmas 2015 is projected on a blank wall, with dozens of hands and arms waved slowly creating the shape of a tree. Nearby, Susanne Shaw’s Holt Renfrew– sponsored tree celebrates the written word, with mammoth book pages folded in an almost origamistyle forming the shape of a tree. On the third floor, where the 300 or so ceramic enthusiasts and museum supporters in attendance congregated, a sharp reflective triangle by Bruno Billio shares the space with a tree of reclaimed wood in muted festive hues by Michael Adamson. Others who presented trees include Justin Broadbent, Sophie DeFrancesca, The Stratford Festival’s Liz Giffen and Andrew Mestern, Trevor Godinho and Hunter Lewis Lake.

Michael Adamson’s tree.

The sold out fundraiser was a decidedly modern take on the annual event, attracting the support of noted philanthropists and their gen-next ilk, who this year raised $100,000 in support of the museum’s outreach and educational activities. Among those celebrating the festive season ahead: Gardiner Museum executive director and CEO Kelvin Browne; Cumberland Private Wealth Management’s chairman and CEO Gerald R. Connor; philanthropist Nona MacDonald Heaslip; Trees Ontario CEO Rob Keen; jewellery designer Krystyne Griffin; The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; psychiatrist Dr. Richard Meen and veterinarian Dr. John Reeve-Newson; broadcaster and event host Alison Smith; president of Applin Marketing & Communications, Anne-Marie Applin; BG Capital Group chairman Bobby Genovese; jeweller Myles Mindham and the Canadian Opera Company’s Stephen Giles; Simpson Thacher partner Ryerson Symons and his wife Michele; Gardiner Museum Young Patrons Circle co-chairs Michael Liebrock and James Temple; honorary committee members including Lynda Prince, Mary Symons, Margaret McCain, Emmanuelle Gattuso and Lisa Tant; honorary committee co-chairs senator Nicole C. Eaton and Lindy Barrow, daughter of George and Helen Gardiner, the Museum’s founders.

Kelvin Browne and Lindy Barrow.
Contributing artists Bruno Billio (left) and Michael Adamson.
Dee Dee Eustace (left), Alison Smith and The Honourable Jeff Leal.
From left: Ginny Day, Mary Susanne Lamont and Margaret McCain.
Michele and Ryerson Symons.
John and Lisa Eaton.
Gerald R. Connor.
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