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Art plinth projects move ahead for end of Canada Line

LEFT: Roost will provide shelter for birds at the Canada Line terminus on No. 3 Road. RIGHT: SkyDam will feature a colourful beaver dam made of Richmond driftwood.  -
LEFT: Roost will provide shelter for birds at the Canada Line terminus on No. 3 Road. RIGHT: SkyDam will feature a colourful beaver dam made of Richmond driftwood.
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A beaver dam and a collection of brightly coloured tubes are expected to soon enliven the abrupt Canada Line terminus on No. 3 Road.

City council endorsed concepts Monday for the first two public art projects to be installed on the so-called Art Plinth at Brighouse Station—a half-vacant pillar supporting the elevated guideway. Installation of the first work is scheduled to be complete by spring 2014.

A five-member panel that included artists, a resident and a transit official, selected two works from 76 proposals received by the city.

Each will be displayed for up to one year.

“It’s a good thing that the selection panel is absolutely independent,” said Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt. “They’re interesting, but they’re not my type of public art. So I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of response we’ll get from the public.”

Referencing public art in Richmond during the 2010 Olympics, which included a sculpture depicting 20th century communist leaders Lenin and Mao, Halsey-Brandt said it’s important the artworks be an “appropriate representation” and urged staff to give viewers an easy way of providing feedback.

SkyDam by Nathan Lee, Sarah Siegel, Erika Mashig and Aline Meylan will feature painted driftwood, harvested in Richmond, and arranged to resemble a beaver dam. Beavers sculpted from rigid foam are included in the design.

In a report to council, public art planner Eric Fiss described the creators as landscape architects with experience in creative projects.

“SkyDam references the importance of the beaver to the cultural history of Canada, as well as drawing parallels between beaver and human efforts in managing our environments and habitats,” noted Fiss.

The second work, Roost, is the work of artist and former Richmond Review editor Carlyn Yandle, who designed the pedestrian scramble crosswalk pattern in Steveston. Roost is a cluster of recyclable aluminum tubes that will appear to emerge from the guideway “like the cut-off end of a massive electrical conduit.”

“It is anticipated that the ends of the tubes will provide shelter for birds. Staff will monitor the impact of birds and take action to modify the artwork if required,” noted Fiss.

SkyDam will cost the city $45,000; Roost rings in at $35,000. Earlier this year council approved a budget of $200,000 for art on the plinth, so more works could come in the future.

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