Thursday, July 28, 2016

Flying squid

It was three wooden squid flying through the trees at The Point gallery on southern Saltspring Island that made me start thinking about outdoor sculptures here. What makes them different from the public sculptures I tend to either ignore or dislike in Vancouver? I find the pixillated orca at Canada Place a jangly reminder of a world gone technology-mad, for example. The giant sparrows on an acre of paving at the Olympic village are a horrible reminder of the destruction of our natural world. And the Olympic cauldron, which I gather is also supposed to be a type of sculpture, has a brutal mechanical look, at least when it's not sprouting flames.

Of course Saltspring has its (in my eyes) mistakes on the sculpture front. But possibly because this is a very environmentalist community, and possibly because there are so many artists, there seems to be a happy facility here for combining nature and art, with the result that both are enhanced. Many sculptures are made of natural materials like wood and stone, and often they are placed so the natural setting is just as important as the work itself. Celia Duthie's gallery near Ganges, for example, features  a landscaped forest full of carefully placed sculptures. The forest displays, among trees with dappled sunlight, are usually more impressive than what is in the gallery building itself.

Here are some examples of the sculptures I like -- and one I don't like so much -- on the island:

What could be better than a wooden squid flying through the forested area surrounding Saltspring's Point gallery?

The answer? Three squid, carefully lined up in a row. I show only two here because the photo showing all three made them too small to see. 

This is a wind sculpture, one of several, in a little square of Ganges village. It's all metal of different types and colours, and the wind causes all the doo-dads to constantly twist and  turn. It's playful and eye-catching, and the water view in the background adds to the pleasure. 

This is another wind sculpture, but on a private condo development along the waterfront in Ganges village. Its components are in constant motion, adding movement and interest to the beautiful greenery behind. 

A magical grouping of wooden forms in a golden-grass field near Celia Duthie's gallery on Saltspring lets you imagine anything you want. A group of old-time villagers meeting to chat? 

A simple stone column in the forest of Celia Duthie's gallery could represent a human. Or?

Three wooden forms in the Duthie forest. Obviously they're meant to be people, but the trees around them make them mysterious.

A wooden figure in the Duthie forest is beautifully framed by trees. The little gazebo in the photo has even  more wooden figures, perhaps holding a meeting there.

This figure on the Ganges waterfront drew hoots and jeers from the island's artists. I think it is supposed to be a mermaid, but hmmm...It's the sculpture I don't think works.

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