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Veteran photographer and painter Andrée Gagné moved to Toronto from her native Quebec 40 years ago, eventually settling into a studio apartment with views over the Rosedale ravine. "I moved there in 1989 because of the trees. I wanted to create a nest for myself, an intimate retreat far from the madness of downtown living," says the artist, whose recent show at Toronto's Angell Gallery of elegiac black and white portraits of the city's homeless was a critical success. "I love the nook where my bed is nested as I feel safe there," Gagné adds, describing her favourite corner of the room. "It gives me a perfect view of the birds that come and visit my trees, as I like to call them."

The wicker chair

"I bought it at Pier 1 Imports a few years ago for $95. Besides being a cool shape, it is very comfortable to sit in. The light colour contrasts with the overall darkness of the room."

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The face masks

"I bought the Chokwe Pwo mask on my dresser in Zambia when I worked in a missionary hospital there. The masks above my closet were bought in Montreal in an antique store. Made of papier-mâché, they are very old and come from Asia."

The photographs

"All the photographs on the walls are done by me, some are left over from a successful show I had at Angell Gallery last May and the rest are from my days as a fashion photographer."

The walls

"I created the distressed look behind my bed by rubbing paint and glaze into the wall after half of it fell off when I was trying to remove the velvet tapestry left behind by the previous tenant. The rest of the walls were painted by my friend, [the multidisciplinary artist]Yanis Ertmanis. He did the stencils on the ceiling, too."

The bed

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"I installed the netting to augment the sense of this room as a nest. It also helps isolate the bed from the rest of the room. The coverlet was a gift from my friend, the photographer Cylla Von Tiedemann. She brought it back from a trip to Cambodia. The cushions have been gathered over the years, from various points around the world. Some were given to me and some I bought."

The wooden raccoon

"It was made by a folk artist in Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides, which is about 15 miles from Grand-Mère, where I was born. Ironically, I didn't buy it in Quebec, but from a woman in Toronto. I loved it at first sight, but even more so after my brother, who knew the artist, told me about the origins of the person who made it. I love it because it connects me to my French-Canadian roots."

The body mask

"The body mask in my window was done from a male bust by Odile Chatelain, a fantastic artist and jeweller who now makes exquisite chocolates to earn her living. I love it because it's pretty sexy and full of character."

The sofa

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"I got it 30 years ago. It is an original art deco couch. I love its undulating shape."

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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