Proposed public art installation sparks debate in Victoria

$250,000 sculpture complements an interactive sound element of First Nations drumming and singing

A new public art installation proposed for Victoria has sparked debate over the merit and interpretation of city-funded artwork.

B.C. artist Luke Ramsey defended the inspiration and design of the sculpture that incorporates a series of colourful surfboard-type arches mimicking the silhouette of an orca at city council last week.

The $250,000 sculpture complements an interactive sound element of First Nations drumming and singing created by the city’s Indigenous artist-in-residence Lindsay Delaronde.

The art will be installed near the city’s downtown waterfront, and Councillor Ben Isitt questioned the simplicity of the sculpture and its ability to reflect the Indigenous history of the land.

“Just when I look at the art, it … doesn’t feel like there’s a recognition of the local Indigenous context,” Isitt said. “Our artist in residence has done great work on a number of projects and I’m not convinced this meets the mark, but I’m open to being convinced.”

Other councillors advocated adding a plaque to explain the meaning behind the artwork.

“Just to look at it, I couldn’t relate to it as well as when the artist in residence described it and once it was described it brought on a different meaning,” said Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Ramsey said the sculpture is not intended to be an Indigenous artwork but a creation of his own reflecting the natural environment surrounding the bustling coastal city and the vessels, such as paddle boards, people use to connect with the water.

15 Questions: With Luke Ramsey

READ MORE: Meet Victoria’s indigenous artist in residence

“For me it’s about exploring simplicity in art and trying to convey something that has a meaning and a definition to it,” he said. ”To me this is paying reverence to nature and showing this creature that is coming up in an area that is full of a lot of transportation and activity. This is not necessarily a site that you go to but it goes with you it moves with the activity around it.”

The art installation is part of a larger landscaping project for the waterfront sparked by the construction of a new bridge that is slated to be completed in March.

While the elements of the artwork were debated, Councillor Marianne Alto said it’s not up to the city to determine or define what is Indigenous art.

“I want to caution us to remember that the context in which we’re speaking here is around art,” she said. “We need to be cautious about relying on our own interpretation of what reflects Indigenous art and Indigenous history and Indigenous currency.”

She said the fact that Delaronde and other Indigenous people on the city’s public arts committee weighed in on the project ensured diverse perspectives were considered.

“I want us to make sure we are not imposing our own expectations and interpretations on what is Indigenous by assuming that this is not sufficient or that we need to add another layer,” she said.

The design was ultimately approved by council and that element of the landscaping project is expected to be completed in 2018.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

Victoria man to run marathon after overcoming rare cancer diagnosis

Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010

Burger sales bring in $5,000 to build Imagination Libraries in Greater Victoria

United Way of Greater Victoria and Big Wheel Burger team up to get kids reading

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Saanich for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Most Read