The legacy of the Craigflower Farm and Schoolhouse continues to mark the Admirals Road crossing of Gorge Waterway as the theme for a massive new metal art installation coming to Craigflower Bridge.
Artist Blake Williams of Vancouver won Saanich’s competition entitled Bridging Perspectives. He’s currently finishing the fabrication process.
“It’s a steel frame and structure, people will interpret the [piece] in different ways,” said Williams, who is known to work with kiln-fired ceramic porcelain and glass surfaces. “The idea is it’s a curving form that I thought was a metaphor for the curving of the Gorge as it moves inland from the Inner Harbour.”
Williams visited Saanich for Gorge on Art Day and the Gorge Canada Day Picnic, where he interacted with locals and also spent time in the Saanich booth passing out information on the project.
“It will have an image of a tree on one side, and within the tree, which is based on a Garry oak, are stories inscribed with text from research on the feelings and experiences of the people (here),” Williams said.
The ‘unfurling’ metal frame should be pleasing to the eye, and will sit with an off-balance twist. It will sit in a gathering area on the northeast side of the bridge.
“One person I talked to said he used to fish off the bridge with his kids and now brings his grandchildren to do the same,” Wiliams added.
Saanich’s request for proposal closed in March. Williams’ piece should be installed by October.
Saanich put up about $30,000 for the project, roughly $5,000 for administration costs and $25,000 to the artist.
The art installation is supported by the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, which desired the Craigflower Bridge’s restoration reflect its historical significance.
“We pushed for art on the bridge because it’s a place [as opposed to a thoroughfare],” said GTCA president Rob Wickson. “We wanted it to be a gateway with historical significance so that people know they’re coming into a neighbourhood. Ninety per cent of the vehicles [on Admirals] are driving through, and we want them to recognize if you want to drive through you’ve got to respect our neighbourhood and the quality of life for the people who live here.”
Wickson said the GTCA wanted to see more done in terms of art, such as the repurposing of old pieces of the bridge as benches or furniture, a little of which was done on the new Craigflower.
“Why stop there?” Wickson asked. “Why can’t we write a palindrome along the barrier that we can read going both ways?”
Local bridges have lost their significance as crossings, or places, and have instead become nothing more than roadways, Wickson added. In fact, Craigflower is one of the few historic bridges in the area still referred to by its proper name. Victoria’s Point Ellis Bridge, for example, is better known these days as the Bay Street bridge. And in Saanich, the Gorge Bridge has become the Tillicum Road bridge.
“The Gorge Bridge is one of the most historical sites in the region and now it’s more of a four-lane freeway that’s difficult to ride a bike across. We didn’t want that. We wanted heritage.”