Sculpture to Bloom on Calgary's St. Patrick's Island

Plans for a new piece of public art were unveiled today in Calgary. A seven-storey-high sculpture titled Bloom will be installed on St. Patrick's Island this summer.

Artist hopes new installation will be a Calgary landmark

A 23-metre high sculpture, pictured in the bottom right corner of this artistic rendering, will help illuminate the west end of St. Patrick's Island. It has a price tag of $500,000. (Calgary Municipal Land Corporation)

A massive sculpture is about to blossom on St. Patrick's Island called Bloom

The sculpture, which will look like street lights fused together in the shape of a flower, will tower over the revitalized park near the Calgary Zoo. 

Montreal artist Michel de Broin calls his creation Bloom. He plans to fuse street lights together in the shape of a flower. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

"It's a kind of natural element. It looks a little bit like flowers put together," said Montreal-based artist Michel de Broin.

At 23 meters in height, the roughly $500,000 sculpture will be visible from many points in the downtown core.

"You want to create landmarks. You want to make this place memorable. And how do you do that? There's no recipe. There's no clear way to do that. So, you try things," said de Broin.

He says Bloom was inspired by the encounter between the natural landscape of St. Patrick's Island and the cityscape that surrounds it.

"It's showing all different possibilities of direction, a little bit like a compass," said de Broin.

He welcomes the debate public art installations often provoke.

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"I think it's good. You know art is not there to please people. Art is there to bring people somewhere they don't know yet. It's challenging and it's OK if people feel challenged, and it's OK if they don't like it. It's better when they like it but sometimes it takes time."

The new sculpture will sit next to the Skipping Stone Bridge that connects the East Village with St. Patrick's Island and Bridgeland on the north side of the Bow River. (Calgary Municipal Land Corporation)

$20M revitalization for downtown park

The park revitalization is being overseen by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC). Spokesperson Susan Veres says the lighting provided by the sculpture will alleviate security concerns in the somewhat secluded park.

"Nobody wanted to go there. It was a scary place," she said. 

Veres says the park will have running and biking trails as well as an amphitheatre, and kids will be able to cool off in the Bow River.

"We've opened a breach channel in the Bow River so children can get in it in the summer months and play," she said.

Veres says the entire redevelopment project is pegged at $20 million, saying "$500,000 is not insignificant but it's not a lot of money" in the overall context.

"And I think the addition of art on the island is all the more reason to see the island and use the island," she said.

The CMLC is funding the sculpture through property taxes collected from new developments in the East Village. The park is scheduled to open at the end of July.

The artist says he welcomes the debate public art installations often provoke. (Calgary Municipal Land Corporation)


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