The revitalization of St. Patrick’s Island by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is nearly complete. This 31-acre master-planned recreational area will include running and biking trails, a plaza and amphitheatre, play areas, an elevated rise and restored river channels, and a public art installation by Canadian artist Michel de Broin, which will be unveiled on opening day.
Titled Bloom, de Broin’s creation – a monumental sculpture of streetlights assembled organically to represent a towering flower – will reach 23 metres tall. The concept, says the artist, was “inspired by the encounter between the natural landscape of the park and the urban cityscape. The monumental sculpture of streetlights blossomed, softly awakening the island and watching over it at night. Like the flower, the monumentality of the lights lies in sharp contrast to the delicacy of the stems, filaments and petals. Devices of attraction, flowers and lights create points of encounter and interaction.”
“Creating points of encounter and interaction is something we’ve purposefully endeavoured to do in every dimension of our East Village and Rivers District redevelopment efforts. It’s one of the key placemaking objectives of our Art in the Public Realm program, and it’s why a permanent public art installation was identified as part of our master plan for East Village from the very start,” says Michael Brown, CMLC’s president and CEO.
Bloom is the third permanent art installation to come about through CMLC’s Art in the Public Realm program, which aligns with both the East Village Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and the East Village Master Plan aims to define public spaces within the community by offering a sense of orientation to visitors; to surprise, delight, and provoke connection and memorable interactions; and to mitigate security concerns by adding interest and “eyes on the park” through additional light for the park.
In keeping with these objectives, Bloom has functional purposes that far transcend its artistic value. “Like a burst of rays, the asymmetrically arranged streetlights show all possible directions outward and concentrate strength inward,” explains de Broin. “The projections of light connect the artwork to paths on the island and, in turn, create a node or point of focus. By illuminating important routes, the radiant shape helps the urban dweller orient themselves within the city.”
The process of selecting Bloom as St. Patrick Island’s public art installation began in the summer of 2013, when CMLC retained a local consulting team (Art to Public) to help identify opportunities for public art on St. Patrick’s Island and prepare a list of Canadian artists capable of delivering work of the desired scale. CMLC invited a shortlist of six (6) artists to submit proposals and, to ensure broader stakeholder support, an evaluation committee was struck that included CMLC managers and representatives from the St. Patrick’s Island revitalization design team, Calgary Parks and the City of Calgary Public Art Committee.
The $500,000 budget for the installation was included as part of the total budget for the St. Patrick’s Island redevelopment program. This evening at a FREE public event being held at Theatre Junction Grand, over 400 Calgarians will meet the artist and learn more about his creative approach.