“Turning in the Light” 2022 drone show with 108 illuminated drones 300 x 300 x 100 feet. Downsview Airport Lands, Toronto.



In 2022, Katharine Harvey created the first large-scale drone light show by a contemporary artist in Canada. “Turning in the Light”, a 10-minute sky performance, features 108 illuminated drones, 300 by 300 by 100 feet, at the Downsview Airport lands in Toronto. In her six-minute art film, Harvey highlights special effects from the light show drones, manipulating the aerial cinematography shot by Hexwing (Montreal).

Conceptually, it is very compelling for the artist to convey the vastness of the universe within the size of a football field. The drone performance appears enormous in front of the audience, yet tiny compared to the enormity of the cosmos. This exciting drone technology presents a new way to harness our imagination about the heavens.


Harvey’s film is accompanied by the ethereal music of renowned Canadian violinist and composer Sarah Neufeld. Best known as a long-time member of Arcade Fire, she is also a founding member of the contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre.


“Turning in the Light” contemplates the mystery of the cosmos. Katharine Harvey’s recent acrylic paintings inspired some of the scenes in the drone creation. In turn, she is currently working on new artwork based on the drone light show.



Northcrest Developments, in collaboration with Luminato Festival Toronto and North York Arts, presented “Light Up Downsview” on November 12, 2022. The team welcomed the community to the Downsview Airport Lands for a free evening of illuminated wonder featuring Katharine Harvey’s drone show. In addition, the event offered complimentary hot beverages, music by local DJ Elegance, and pre-show performances by Shadowland Theatre. “Light Up Downsview” occurred across from 3 Hanover Road in North York. Over 2,000 people attended in person and online.


“The Downsview Airport Lands are poised to become Toronto’s next destination for innovation, jobs, and vibrant public spaces. After the success of our “Play On The Runway” event in June, Northcrest was thrilled to welcome back the people of North York, Toronto, and the GTA for Ontario’s largest artistic drone performance,” said Mitchell Marcus, Executive Director, Site Activation & Programming at Northcrest Developments. “We were proud to collaborate with Luminato Festival Toronto and North York Arts. Significantly, we attracted many families plus tech and cultural enthusiasts to this free event at the normally restricted airport lands. We lit up the sky with a breathtaking display of aerial art!”


“Turning in the Light” is a twelve-minute drone show with 108 independent drones that enact eight scenes in the sky, some based on the artist’s recent paintings. Toronto-based artist Katharine Harvey, known for her large-scale public artworks, explores the potential of our imagination to wrestle with the mysteries of the cosmos. With their expert vision, Northstar Drone Shows programmed the flight paths of the drones to paint each artistic image in the sky. Afterwards, they welcomed the public to see the drone field up close and talk to the flight crew.

The artist wishes to thank the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

“I am so excited that my dream of painting magic in the sky came to fruition after two and a half years,” said Katharine Harvey. “Aerial cinematographers from Hexwing of Montreal captured the show. I will now create a series of paintings based on this footage.”


The “Light Up Downsview” event was part of an ongoing free cultural series presented by Northcrest Developments. For more information, please visit www.northcrestdev.com/whats-on.

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