Tucked in between the Sechelt Library and the Visitor Information Centre, you’ll find a significant collection of public art. Recently, I had an opportunity to learn more about this collection in a tour of the District of Sechelt Sculpture Garden, led by Siobhan Smith, Sechelt’s Art Coordinator and George Pratt, one of the artists.
Summer Time was commissioned by the District of Sechelt and created by local resident George Pratt in 2009. Pratt’s work is widely collected in North America by private individuals, corporations and his giant jade carving, The Emporer’s Sunrise, was a striking focal point at the Canadian Pavillion during the 2008 Olympic Games in China.
A sundial was Pratt’s initial idea when proposing Summer Time and he provided a most informative explanation of the workings and challenges of a functioning timepiece which connects the earth and the sun. At our latitude, however, the sun’s rays will stike the sundial for only part of the year… hence, the granite bear on the opposite side, asleep and hibernating, waiting for the sun’s rays to return.
A Place of Infinite Beauty, Between Two Waters was carved by Michel Beauvais, another resident of the Sunshine Coast. Named by the Shishalh, the original inhabitants of the region, the word Sechelt means “land between two waters” and it was from our scenic region that Beauvais drew his inspiration. The polished finish which glistens in the sun is like the ocean waters, while the locally-sourced greenish serpentine stone colours are reminiscent of our Coastal forests.
Time in its Flight was created by an artist, with deep historical roots to the Sunshine Coast. Anna Hanson’s inspiration comes from her grandfather, the late Dudley Carter who is famous for his monumental wood sculptures, two of which are in Sechelt. Like her grandfather, her material of choice is cedar, as are her tools – an axe, adze and chisel.
Time in its flight reflects the nature, environment and history of the Sunshine Coast. The large copper shield shape is akin to those used in potlatch ceremonies and combines two mediums, traditional western red cedar and contemporary aluminum.
The lower portion portrays simple pictographs, while above are waves and salmon forms in a traditional Coast Salish style. Atop are a fishing boat, sailboat and birds in flight with a stylized bird, perhaps a raven, reaching toward the sky.
Across the street from the Library stands a lone totem pole, collectively carved under the leadership of Bradley Hunt. Hunt moved from his ancestral home in Bella Bella to Sechelt in 1978 where he taught at our local elementary school. He was a much-respected teacher and carved the totem pole in 1985 together with his students and other Shishalh Band members.
This intricately carved totem has two main figures, the eagle and the human. The eagle is a highly significant symbol to the Shishalh people, while the human figure represents the teacher. In the body of this human is a smaller human representing the children. The traditional wealth symbol, the copper appears on this smaller figure – in this case the wealth of knowledge.
Just up the street from the school is the Rockwood Centre, home to the very popular, annual Festival of the Written Arts and Sanctuary, by Dudley Carter greets visitors at the entrance to the gardens. Carter first came to the Sunshine Coast in 1927 and when the Great Depression took away his livelihood he turned to art. For the next 60 years he enjoyed a highly prolific and profitable career as a monumental wood sculptor.
As described by his grand daughter, Anna Hansen, Sanctuary speaks to the sacredness of the forest, nature and the environment. Condor, king of the skies is perched on top, while stylized plant forms boldly work their way up the central redwood column. A gentle, nurturing forest maiden stands lightly recessed, protected and enveloped by a concave redwood slab.
Special thanks to Siobhan Smith, Sechelt Arts Coordinator for the use of her notes which were invaluable in preparing this post, and more importantly for her leadership in enhancing and promoting public art in the District of Sechelt. Special thanks also to Tom Pinfold for many of the images in this post.
Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove.