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Wild Honey: Sweet new art project 'special for the community'

'Honeycomb shape represents how we can build a strong home when we work together and the wildflowers are a reminder that beauty is often found in unexpected places,' says artist behind Crossroads, Connections and Intersections installation

The ninth and final piece in the city's Crossroads, Connections and Intersections public art commission has been installed in its new home, and it has a local connection. In fact, two of them. 

This civic public art project features nine works of art in seven locations in and around Orillia. The locations are all along the trail network, at gateways to the city, or at road intersections, and are spread throughout the city, hence the project’s name.

This final artwork in the project is artist Rachel Babineau’s vision in metal, Wild Honey. Babineau grew up in Orillia and designed and painted Wild Honey. Metalwork artist Frank Ripley lives and works locally, and fabricated the piece. Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH) Executive Director Ninette Gyorody coordinated the project. 

Babineau was late to the city's initiative, after another artist couldn’t fulfill the project completion requirements.

“I got involved with the honeycomb project when Ninette Gyorody introduced me to Rachel at a sit-down over at Mark IV coffeehouse," explained Ripley.

"It was pretty straightforward and smooth sailing from the beginning. The three of us worked well together tackling the things that quickly needed to get done. Time was an issue as we only had a small amount of it to get the whole thing finished,” he explained.

The Wild Honey component of Crossroads, Connections and Intersections can be found near the Atherley Trail, near the Koi Sushi Plaza on Atherley Road. Anna Proctor Photo

Gyorody agreed.

“I was thrilled that two talented and creative Orillians could meet and, in a span of only two months, design, build and install Wild Honey, the last public art work of the Crossroads, Connections and Intersections project," said Gyorody, the executive director of the Orillia Museum of Art and History (OMAH).

"Everyone involved worked really hard to bring this piece to life," said Babineau. "The city and OMAH were so supportive and were always available to answer my questions. As a late addition to the Crossroads, Connections and Intersections project, I was on a tight timeline, and this made finding someone to fabricate my design a big challenge.

"I am so happy that I was introduced to Frank and that he was willing to take on the project. Frank went above and beyond to not only create a beautiful structure but to support the project all the way from the technical drawings to the installation,” she explained.

"Based on Rachel’s ideas and some engineered drawings, I did the metal work at my studio here in Orillia," said Ripley. "Rachel came in after and painted her magic on to the two pieces and we made it happen without more then a few days to spare. It was a great experience and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Babineau is very happy to have her first piece of public art displayed in the town she grew up in.

“I came across this project on Akimbo (a website that lists art opportunities and events in Canada) and was really excited to see a project like this in Orillia," she said.

"I wanted to design something that would be relevant and special for the community I grew up in. As a kid, I took lessons with local artists and saw their work on display, so applying for this was a really full circle moment,” she said.

Babineau’s works explore themes of environment, beauty, and resilience.

“Wild Honey highlights what we can learn about community from our ecosystem, that we are all connected and important. The honeycomb shape represents how we can build a strong home when we work together and the wildflowers are a reminder that beauty is often found in unexpected places,” she explained. 

Thinking about the project as a whole, Gyorody said the project has been a great success.

“On behalf of the Art in Public Places committee, jointly managed by OMAH and the City of Orillia, I am proud that through our collective synergies, with the artists, committee members, and grant team, we have provided our community nine permanent works of art throughout the city, united by trails and gathering places, that will on an ongoing basis, inspire, engage, and improve our wellbeing.”  

Wild Honey is located on the Atherley Trail, near the Koi Sushi Plaza on Atherley Road.

Crossroads, Connections and Intersections’ nine pieces of art can be found by following this map here. A self-guided tour will also be available, with another map, on OMAH’s website at


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