Banana Slug, 2017
• hardy island granite & stainless steel
• 18” H x 60” W x 12” D (45cm H x 152cm W x 30cm D)
• public art collection BC Children’s Hospital Foundation TACC, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Michael Binkley won a public art competition contract in the summer of 2016 to carve a large scale banana slug sculpture for the new Teck Acute Care Centre (TACC) at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC, Canada. The commission is part of the Children’s Healing Experience Project where fine art has been deeply integrated into the hospital facility. Binkley is honoured to be part of such an innovative and special project.
The subject of a banana slug was chosen by a jury panel of children who wanted something “icky”, but big – big enough for a small child to ride on like a carousel pony. After sketching concepts for a marmot, a snail and a slug, the jury was unanimous in the choice of the slug.
Binkley has carved the 5 foot long slug from a block of granite that was quarried on Hardy Island, off the Sunshine Coast of BC, Canada. Using durable, local materials was important to the patron, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. The Foundation wanted to make sure the back of the sculpture was high enough for children to ride on, so to accommodate this, Binkley designed the Slug to appear to be slithering over a rock. The artist carved the mantle of the Slug to be saddle shaped and since the upper two tentacles would be in danger of breaking if done in stone, Binkley made them both of stainless steel. He carved the skirt of the Slug so that it casts a lovely rippled shadow.
Originally, the Banana Slug was to be installed in the hallway of the Oncology Level, but since the surface of the sculpture was to be bush hammered, tiny microbes might grow on the uneven surfaces. This would be very dangerous for young patients with low immune systems, so an alternate location for the sculpture had to be found. The Foundation and Binkley agreed on the roof-top garden. Since granite is perfect for outdoor sculpture, it was installed amongst dwarf salal bushes on the border of the roof garden, and it presides over the simple labyrinth. Photo top courtesy of Raef Grohne, Vancouver.
Binkley hopes that patients, families and visitors to TACC will always enjoy his Banana Slug sculpture.