How a high school is using glass shards to remember the Halifax Explosion

Some students at a Bedford, N.S., high school are using glass shards as a way of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion.

Idea stems from a previous project for Nocturne, the Halifax art event

Monique Rizzo (left) and Breanna Curren (right) are students at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford. (Carsten Knox/CBC)

Students at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, N.S., are cutting glass in their class.

The project, which aims to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, started a few years ago when the class came up with the idea of doing a Halifax Explosion project for Nocturne, the Halifax art event.

Hundreds of pieces of ornamental glass were cut for that project. Many of the pieces were given away, but with the centenary of the explosion rapidly approaching, the students and their teacher, Anna Whalen, got back to work. 

"Students cut them into shard-type forms, but at the same time try to keep them beautiful," said Whalen.

"All of it is clear, so it looks beautiful in the light when it's hanging from the window. There are no two that are the same."

904 pieces

Students then foil, solder and polish the glass, with an explanation tagged onto each one explaining its intent. The goal is to complete 904 pieces. 

The tag reads, in part:

"The hanging glass references the moment (9:04 a.m.) when the windows in Halifax were shattered by the terrible explosion of the SS Mont-Blanc in the Narrows of Halifax. Thousands were killed that morning and thousands more were injured and blinded. Hang this piece of glass each December in memory of the Nova Scotians whose lives were changed forever."

Teacher Anna Whalen says that none of the shards are the same. (Carsten Knox/CBC)

The final disposition of the artwork has yet to be decided. One of the students thinks the pieces should all be displayed together, and then given away or sold to people one at a time. 

"It's cool to have all 904 pieces together, and to commemorate the time and the event, but then for everyone to take away their own little piece of it," said Monique Rizzo. 

Whalen agrees.

"If we could connect this with someone who might be listening who says, 'We know exactly where this should be.' We all trust that somehow it will end up where it needs to be on Dec. 6. It's here, waiting to be picked up by the right party."