Armstrong and Fox wove almost a kilometer of fabric required for the Hespeler commission, using unusual, textured Japanese yarn made from nylon and bits of linen paper. Then the fabric was hand-dyed using a traditional resist technique to form large diamond shapes in the fabric. Finally, the fabric was sewn into the semi-transparent drapery that now hangs from the high ceilings of the library and gracefully pools on the floor. The drapery is installed around the perimeter of the second floor of the new award-winning building designed by Toronto architect, Alar Kongats.
The woven structure is simple and the drape is sculptural, with folds down its 12 foot height. The highly textured surface of "Natural Surroundings" is inspired by and recalls the mystery and subtlety of nature's twigs, leaves, grasses, and seeds. This natural reference offers a contemplative and mindful place, fostering awareness of the beauty of our natural world. The drapery changes with the light--the ceramic fretwork in the glass windows casts shadows on the fabric in strong sunlight or wave-like shadows in angled light. The visual and physical texture of the fabric invites closer inspection during the day and night. In the evening the motifs that were dyed into the drapery become dominant visual element in the drapery.