The “Sea Lore” sculpture that was proposed to sit atop a rock off the shores of Oak Bay, will be finding a new home after council decided Monday to have all art installations be land-bound.
The decision comes after significant public push-back arose from the proposed location – a rock below the high water mark in Oak Bay that can be viewed along the sea wall.
Some residents went as far as proposing that the bay which holds the rock be “designated a Natural Heritage site and protected and preserved as a rare example of a small bit of urban wild coast,” in order to stop the statue from being placed in the inter tidal zone.
The concerns varied from aesthetics of the natural view, to the piece interfering with sea life and wildlife that use the rock in question.
The backlash was primarily about the placement as opposed to the piece itself, which was jury-selected after a $50,000 donation from a 96-year-old resident spurred a call for submissions.
Out of 32 submissions, the jury selected “Octeavina” by Lisa McCulloch (designer) and Fred Dobbs (sculptor) – inspired by the maritime character of Oak Bay. The artists were not involved with the placement decision.
As the rock is under provincial jurisdiction, a proposal for a licence to occupy was before the provincial government; however, with council’s decision on Monday, the provincial proposal is dead in the water.
Council unanimously agreed Monday with a report from the Director of Corporate Services that another site on District-owned lands should be identified for the placement of the sculpture, which District staff will work on with Arts Laureate Barbara Adams.
Council will also look to amend the Public Art Policy to require that art be installed on lands owned or controlled by the District of Oak Bay and have the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission work with the Public Art Committee to make process and locating guidelines for public art in Oak Bay.
“I think we are ahead of the curve in terms of where we thought we’d be at this point with the number of art pieces. We’ve had great art and wonderful support from buyers,” said Mayor Kevin Murdoch. “Some good points were raised here though. We just need to go away and firm up policies, plan for how many temporary and permanent pieces we want, because none of that has been established.”
The new policies are expected to come forward in the fall.
As for “Sea Lore,” artists McCulloch and Dobbs continue to fine tune the design.
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