British Columbia

Sculpture gouged by skateboarders

A sculpture that doubles as a bench outside one of Vancouver's new Canada Line rapid transit stations has been put to another use that has put deep gashes and scars on what was a pristine work of art a few weeks ago.
This Canada Line artwork called The Bench has been put to an unanticipated use by skateboarders. ((Submitted by Marie Khouri))

A sculpture that doubles as a bench outside one of Vancouver's new Canada Line rapid transit stations has been put to another use that has put deep gashes and scars on what was a pristine work of art a few weeks ago.

The Bench, located outside the Olympic Village station, has been used as a skateboard ramp, and the artist who created the piece is not pleased.

"I felt angry, I felt upset, I felt stabbed. But you know, that was my first reaction," artist Marie Khouri told CBC News on Tuesday.

Khouri said she first created the sculpture to fit in her palm, and then imagined the work in a larger form, which she hoped would invite people to touch and even to sit on — but not to deface.

"I wanted mainly to do a piece that people could interact with, that would not be a sacred work of art that's placed in a gallery space or a museum where nobody could touch it," Khouri said.

'What they're doing isn't the right thing'

Khouri's work might be in need of repair. But that doesn't mean it should be locked away, in the opinion of police.

"It's up to the individuals out there doing this," said transit police spokesman Sgt. Tom Seaman.

"They know what they're doing isn't the right thing to be doing, and that's part of the excitement for them. They don't realize the damage they're causing," Seaman said.

Khouri said she would repair The Bench, but refuses to alter the design or put it out of reach. She said she had also talked directly to some skateboarders who had been using it.

The Bench was intended for people to touch and sit on, but not as a skateboard ramp. ((Submitted by Marie Khouri))

"I threw the communication at them. I said 'This piece is truly to be sat on, and by you doing this, you're taking away from the rest of the public that could be enjoying it as a sculptural bench.'"

Khouri said she would make the repairs at her own expense, as she has retained ownership of the work and was only lending it to the transit authority TransLink for display.

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