Matthew Del Degan boarded the TTC to head off to school. He came across a homeless man and thought nothing of striking up a conversation with him. They laughed, smiled and really kicked up a storm, but the rest of the passengers were eerily quiet, Del Degan thought.">

It’s a Lovebot kinda world: Toronto artist’s sculptures make a statement


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Toronto artist Matthew Del Degan

Just over four years ago, a young Matthew Del Degan boarded the TTC to head off to school. He came across a homeless man and thought nothing of striking up a conversation with him. They laughed, smiled and really kicked up a storm, but the rest of the passengers were eerily quiet, Del Degan thought.

Everyone, it seemed, was consumed by their mobile devices, almost as if they were faceless robots. That moment gave him the inspiration to create an early prototype of what would become the Lovebot, a fairly simple mechanical-looking robot complete with a large heart representing the ability to love.

Fast-forward to today, and the Lovebots are taking over Toronto.

A hundred of them have started to arrive, primarily in the downtown region, as two-feet-tall, 250-pound cement statues appearing at select locations.

The current concrete incarnations of the Lovebot are Torontonian to the core, and Del Degan, 23, thinks of them as gifts to the city.

“It’s a symbol of the city. That’s the reason why it’s made out of cement,” Del Degan says. “The cement references our architecture, the concrete jungle.”

Despite the local vibe, Lovebots are already making a splash around the world. Del Degan has traded stickers of the Lovebot with kids online for some time and the Lovebot stickers have flown out to more than 100 countries, including France, South Korea, Italy and the U.K., where he has a notable following.

The cement Lovebots have even previously appeared in several varieties, some as big as seven-and-a-half-feet tall, and were constructed from everything from wood to steel and plastic.

Today, his team of about 20 volunteers aims to make the world a more friendly and caring place and even make the most unlikely of us get along by recognizing the efforts of doing good by building the Lovebots.

“No matter who you are, the worst tyrant to the most moving leader, they had stuff in common. Who doesn’t like a clean shower?” Del Degan says, laughing.

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