I have been commissioned to create a sculpture for the new Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Children’s Hospital. In the Spring of 2016, I entered an open call competition for public art sculpture for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s massive expansion of their facility. The Foundation contracted Aesthetics Inc. to implement the interior design of the new Hospital and to handle the fine art for the project.
The art for the project is the core of the Children’s Healing Experience Project, and is designed to incorporate fine art as a means of helping children on their journey while at the Hospital.
I entered my name in the RFQ for six different categories that needed sculpture. I have done numerous presentation gift sculptures for the Foundation in the past and I thought I might have a chance with at least one of the categories of large sculpture. The deadlines were delayed with weeks of silence and as the summer wore on, I began to have doubts as to my success. However, in August, Aesthetics Inc. contacted me and told me the jury had selected me for the sculpture to grace the view concourse of the new oncology wing and that I did not have to go through a semi-final stage. I was tickled that the jurors were children and was told they loved my supporting sculpture examples the best of all the entrants.
I have been asked to propose a large scale banana slug, slithering on the floor of the view concourse. It must be big enough for small children to ride on its back, like a carousel pony and be carved from a local stone. Banana slugs are a common sight in the wilderness around Vancouver and the bane of all gardeners! They are named for their yellow/green colour with black spots and can grow up to 10 inches long. The budget allows for me to carve a slug sculpture 60 inches long and the Foundation requires the back to be 18 inches from the floor. To keep the slug in proportion, I have proposed that the slug be crawling over a rock.
So I sketched this slug and painted it to look like granite. I will use granite that is quarried on Hardy Island, north of Vancouver that is a very durable medium for public art that I get from Bedrock Granite Sales. While the colour will not match a real slug, I will rely on the stone’s ability to hold shadow and carve the identifying features of mantle, tentacles, foot and skirt that will make it undeniable as a slug. I will carve the two upper tentacles in stainless steel and attach them, as they would be susceptible to breakage if executed in stone.
The Foundation feels that children will identify with the creature and will be intrigued that the sculpture is so large and out of context that it will supersede the “yuck” factor and become something fun to interact with. It is humourous to know that the Foundation wanted me to carve either a marmot or a snail, but the children jurors insisted on a slug.
I’ve ordered the granite block and am awaiting its arrival at my studio.
What do you think of the concept?