T e r i  D o n o v a n

Circa 2014, Mixed media on foam insulation, 47 x 64”

Circa 2009 B, Mixed media on acoustic

ceiling panel,15 x 19”

Circa 2008, Mixed media on acoustic

ceiling panel, 20 x 22.5”

Circa 2009 A, Mixed media on acoustic ceiling panel,

17 x 25.5”

Circa 2010, Mixed media on acoustic ceiling panels, 44 x 44”

Circa 2012, Mixed media on acoustic ceiling panels, 47 x 24” each

Circa 2011, (triptych) Mixed media on acoustic ceiling panels, 48 x 72”


Circa invites viewers to reflect upon the early years of the 21st century in an exhibition of artifacts recovered from demolition sites in downtown Toronto.

The Navonod group of archaeologists has compiled rare examples ranging from paintings and street posters to hand-painted and printed decorative wall panels. The imagery on these reclaimed sections of walls provides a valuable glimpse into the zeitgeist of the times and especially into the anxieties that pervaded the era commonly known as the Internet Age.

Of particular interest, is the use of the Dodo bird. The bird, a symbol of obsolescence, is featured prominently in a number of the artifacts and is used in combination with images of technologies long since abandoned. Research indicates these artifacts date from approximately 2008 - 2014. Work is currently underway to determine the exact locations of the buildings that contained these walls.

Clearly, these images demonstrate a prescience that reflects the disequilibrium caused by increasingly rapid changes and developments in the years preceding the stabilization of global technologies. As such, these artifacts represent a link to the past and contribute significantly to our understanding of the era.

Circa 2013, (diptych) Mixed media on insulation sheeting, 46 x 64”

This large papered section of wall was retrieved from the apartment of an "app" developer/inventor on the western edge of downtown Toronto.

According to the Oxford dictionary an "app" was a 'small self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose, especially for use on a mobile device.'

The design of this wallpaper is particularly significant in that it employs a variety of "apps" logos or identifying symbols. It is remarkably well preserved and thus has allowed researchers to catalogue some of the most popular such as Google, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and You Tube.

The early 21st century was a time fraught with contradictory and competing concerns regarding technology. This repeat pattern wall decoration, painted by an unknown artist, takes to task the ubiquity of technological gadgets in daily life and the proliferation of electronic waste that resulted.

The issue of technological obsolescence is also emphasized by the artist's not-so-subtle use of the dodo bird sprinkled throughout and forming the centerpiece of the pattern.

Descended from pigeons, Dodo birds inhabited the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Sadly, the flightless birds became extinct in 1662, just 75 years after the arrival of Dutch settlers.

A configuration of four Dodo birds combined with an image of exploding technologies forms the half-drop pattern on this corner section of a wall.

This artifact was discovered in the rubble of a demolished building in the core of the city, and although it is badly faded, cracked and yellowed, one can easily discern the pattern.

It remains unclear why the cell phone, the computer and keyboard, and what appear to be two pages, are exploding. Important to note, however, are the two symbols (a blue bird and a hand with the thumb up) on these pages and the words "Facebook" and "Twitter." Researchers expect to decipher their meaning in the near future.

The use of the Dodo bird in these wall sections suggests they may have been painted by the same artist who created the Circa 2010 pattern. It's possible this design was continued on multiple panels and filled an entire wall.

The obvious reference to an Early Renaissance altarpiece clearly mocks the reverential and dependent relationship with technology that was characteristic of the early decades of the 21st century.

Note the portable computer, the audio listening device, the visual communications device, and the symbols above - a bird and two hands with thumbs up. These appear to relate to the technologies, but their meaning has been lost. Further research is under way.

Despite its torn and water stained condition, this wallpaper pattern exemplifies the spirit of the age and is a valuable example of the whirlwind pace of technological evolution and obsolescence in North America in the early 21st century.

Swirling technological inventions subsume images of the extinct Dodo bird foreshadowing their own inevitable fate while other gadgets float away into non-existence.

The Navonod Group founder and chief researcher, Dr. A.T. Navonod, came upon this historically important artifact while searching the ruins of downtown Toronto in the aftermath of the catastrophic events of 2020.

This small fragment, most likely from the same building as Circa 2009 A, presents us with a painted image superimposed over a spray-painted and postered wall.

Although the image is obscured by drips of paint, one can readily determine that the youths pictured are holding small devices in their hands, possibly some sort of game or cell phone typical of the technological devices prevalent in the early years of the 21st century.

Aside from the paint drips, the fragment contains a remarkably preserved image from this era and provides clear information about the clothing and styles of the time.

Unearthed at Toronto in the mid 21st century and thought to be from the first decade of the century. This piece was recovered from a section of interior wall containing a number of artworks by little known Canadian painter, Teri Donovan.

After extensive cleaning and restoration, this wall fragment revealed the image of a woman holding a communications device known as a cell phone. This particular wireless technology was widespread at the time and virtually replaced the standard land- line telephone.

Very few intact examples of these devices remain, due in large part to efforts at the time to recycle components and dispose of the remainders as completely as possible.

This wall fragment is a valuable example of the postering that was prevalent in urban areas early in the 21st century.

As of this time, we have been unable to decipher the black and white pattern behind the head of the right hand figure, but it appears to be some sort of code. Research leads us to conclude the letters, "Goog" come from the name Google, a multi-national corporation that specialized in what was known as Internet services.

The young girls pictured in the poster appear to be holding devices similar to the one shown in the advertisement behind them. These devices were a type of communications technology known as cell phones.