Understanding that communities gain intangible benefits from Public Art—interpretation, education, inspiration and aesthetic beauty to name a few—SFU Community Trust has set out to thoughtfully create a platform for both established and emerging artists in order to bring permanent and temporary pieces to the UniverCity community. In a little over 10 years, the Trust has amassed the beginnings of a unique and varied public art collection with the support of its development partners—all of whom have embraced the unique character of the residential community on Burnaby Mountain. Beginning in 2007 with Yellow Fence by Erica Stocking, public art has been purposefully integrated into the design of each parcel of land developed. If you’re a newcomer to UniverCity, as you embark upon ARTWALK today with this book in hand, you’ll undoubtedly learn a thing or two about the community and some local artists—and if you’re an old hat around here, perhaps you’ll see and appreciate something new on your journey that you have never noticed before.
Near As Far As Far As Near Devon Knowles
Devon Knowles is a Canadian artist currently based in Vancouver, BC. As she engages with theories of perception, optical effects and tactility, alongside the direct act of making, Knowles encourages the viewer to access her work from a shared intimacy and sympathetic attentiveness. Knowles has exhibited her work in solo exhibitions in Berlin, Toronto, Brooklyn and Vancouver.
Arthur Erickson intended his design of the Simon Fraser University campus to remain in harmony with Burnaby Mountain, using shallow stepped terraces and emphasizing horizontal planes that echo the landscape contours. To cross through the site is to experience stairs in all their aspirational associations and perspectival instabilities: we ascend and descend and ascend once more. At the top of the stairs we find stairs. Stopping to get our bearings in one of many lateral expanses we notice multiple staircases join and separate in studied horizontal geometries. Devon Knowles has titled her new work Near As Far As Far As Near, echoing this formal symmetry in its very syntax. Her title lays out spatial relationships and reverses them, evoking a certain back and forth rhythm. In the series of banners devised for the 75 lamp standards along University High Street and selected intersecting roads, four images of the campus staircases repeat in sequences, sometimes paired, sometimes singular. The banner format crops the horizontal of Arthur Erickson’s orientation into narrow vertical slices. The nearest image is so near as to transform the steps and risers into solid alternating slabs of colour. Gradually, over the series, the viewpoints step back to include two staircases intersecting in a flattened perspective, then further, to reveal a recognizable archway, and finally far enough to show a number of columned entrances and a window. Within her radical crop of the picture plane, Knowles has simplified the tonal and textural information to allow for only the high
contrast of light, shadow and middle tones to appear on the printed fabric. Josef Albers’ 1963 text Interaction of Color records an experimental way of studying how our perception of any colour is altered according to the colours that surround it. Comparing visual perception to haptic (relating to touch) phenomena, one’s experience of colour can be altered through its context in the way that a sense of heat or cold relies on a felt memory of a median temperature. Drawing from Albers’ research, Knowles chose grey as the ‘control’ in her experiments with two seasonal palettes: one signifying summer, one winter. The winter grey appears as a brown tone, buoyed up and transformed in relation to the adjacent greens, while the summer grey, although it is identical to the winter grey, appears as a heavier charcoal tone, like wet concrete, when placed next to blue and purple. The seasonal banners will change twice a year and carry forward another reversal: the summer version will lighten the winter streetscape, and the winter version will anchor the glare of summer. To determine the installation sequence of the banners, Knowles repeatedly walked the route from campus, along the level plane of the University High Street shopping area, carried on down its slope, and back again. In a colour-coded, detailed document she mapped the varying steps between the lamp standards that are placed according to the length of the light cast by the taller, utilitarian streetlights and the lower lamps
meant to illuminate the sidewalks. In a unique form of notation, she marked the longest distance between poles as the ‘highest note’ and the shortest distance the ‘lowest’. A greater number of steps between the lamp posts are indexed to the ‘furthest’ image; the fewest steps connect to the ‘nearest’ image. This assignment jars any sequential narrative formed by what is pictured, and fractures the rational relationship between walking and arriving. Knowles’ composition subtly disrupts any visual harmonies to be found in the built environment and is attuned to the alternately quick and slackened pace of walking her route. As the work slopes down the hill, our sightlines tilt and the banners stack up in a processional show of pageantry. Near As Far As Far As Near takes the familiar lamp post banner as a field of inquiry, and explores the potential to be found in the standard vertical format, its repetition across the landscape and the ways in which colours carry meaning. The upright rectangles crop details of the mountaintop views, as they insist upon reiterating the tension between the horizontal and vertical, the mountain and the architecture, the climb and the descent. As multiples, the banners replicate the pace of bodies moving to and from their daily destinations across the ground plane. The images flatten and further abstract the ziggurat forms, playing with modern distances and ancient proximities in the concrete environment, transforming it into seasons with theories of colour.
Yellow Fence Erica Stocking Drawn lines—forming grids, plans and abstract patterns—are a powerful way of plotting the future, of imagining and communicating a form to be built, and a rational method of claiming, measuring and negotiating the dense forest that deﬁnes our West Coast landscape. As we move through our day-to-day geography, we bear down upon this invention, as a system to understand time and space and the shifting conditions of our own particular orientation.
Erica Stocking lives and works in Vancouver, where she received her BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2004. Her work explores the public and private spheres in site-speciﬁc installations that have included the creation of a half-sized hotel room behind the wall of Lobby Gallery, located within a Vancouver hotel. Stocking is a founding member of the performance collective Norma, whose work is drawn from concepts of group identity, popular culture and social behaviour. Norma’s projects have been presented by Artspeak; LIVE Biennial of Performance Art, grunt gallery, and Access Gallery.
Yellow Fence draws upon this history of thinking about time and space as well as the materials and means by which boundaries are created, re-drawn and permeated in the complex use of the built environment by communities of people. Abstraction, and its relationship to the imaginary, is made concrete in the objects we dwell within and walk upon, for “within the abstract, there can be a lived experience of order.” In developing her artwork, Erica Stocking considered Arthur Erickson’s original response to the location for the future Simon Fraser University—focusing on the three design elements of site, light and cadence. Visiting the Hub@UniverCity site under construction, Stocking encountered security fencing that temporarily set the parameters of the work in progress. Formed in modular components, the grid fencing creates a stable structure within each panel, discourages physical trespass while allowing visual access, and adapts to the slope of the geography. They combine and recombine to trace the expansion and contraction of private and public admission to the property over time. In Yellow Fence,
this steel grid translates to a series of gates—moveable forms that hinge on stable horizontal and vertical axes, yet can swing into more complex and dynamic arrangements. Light, and its coastal variability, creates shifting conditions of vision on Burnaby Mountain, at times enveloped in low lying cloud, contrasting with the bright southerly exposure of fair days. The bright ‘safety’ yellow echoes the temporary fence and carries a memory of its use in public signage and way-ﬁnding. It penetrates the gloom, captures attention, and marks the artwork as public. On clear days, sunlight interrupts the barrier gates, to form variable drawings through the shadows they cast. Cadence is the rhythm of the architecture and the environment, and the shifting perspectives of pedestrians moving through them. Between the homes and the shared space of the street, the gates are pivot points between different social conditions, arcing through the language of access and restriction, and the multiple forms of citizenship. The routine grid is gradually disrupted over the series of gates, and their standard material reordered from a rational stability to unique and lively patterns. Yet, through the cast shadows, a trace of that perfect grid will appear, when the perspective of an alert viewer corresponds with the trajectory of sunlight and the opening angle of the ﬁnal, most easterly gate. Yellow Fence considers the mobile viewer and their encounter with declarative
materials—exploring the potential of looking-in-motion to transform threedimensional forms into the ﬂat plane of a picture and back again, accentuating the adaptability of our binocular vision. Stocking emphasizes, within this permanent artwork, the temporary and contingent nature of our perception, as aspects of the artwork appear and disappear, as conditions change and as we transit from place to place.
EcoSoMo Matthew Soules
Matthew Soules is an architect whose design practice, Matthew Soules Architecture (MSA) explores an emergent territory where art, ecology, and architecture overlap. Soules has completed projects in Vancouver and other British Columbia communities as well as contributing to projects in Beijing, Shanghai, Milan, and New York City. Soules holds a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from UBC. Soules is an Assistant Professor at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and has been an invited design critic at Harvard University, MIT, Berkeley, the Rhode Island School of Design and the Pratt Institute.
EcoSoMo, an abbreviation of Ecological Social Modules, is a series of sculptural forms clustered evenly along the full length of University High Street between Tower Road and University Crescent. Separately, the components are asymmetrical and dynamic shapes that fit together like puzzle pieces. Placed together, they support the interaction of people, plants and wildlife through elevated planters, seating and rain pool birdbaths. Local plantings erupt from the summits of ‘volcano’ shaped obelisks, nestled close to rain pool forms that create micro-habitats for local birds. Beneath these, seating modules and kiosk-like forms suggest a sociable platform for gathering, resting and conversation. Their placement introduces multiple rhythms along the busy streetscape: the modules repeat and recombine systematically; perennial plantings flourish and recede with the season, and precipitation gathers and ebbs away. Cast from high strength and durable Ductal concrete, elements that seem of weighty volume are able to float above the ground. Fabricated by Szolyd Development of Victoria, BC, each of the fifty elements is precast at an average one-inch thickness. The cantilevered bases need to support the weight of up to 205 kilograms as well as the plants and planting medium, a complex challenge that required impressive technological innovations in mold design and casting methods. The complex geometry of each element is engineered to cluster precisely in eight discrete groupings: all to create a sense of enigmatic levitation that is noticed at a distance and serves to draw one closer.
In relief on nearly every surface, creating interplays of light and shadow, rows and rows of text inscriptions wrap precisely around the obliquely angled corners. The technical complexity of fitting text and image to such asymmetrical forms reveals computer aided 3-D modeling as a key method in the production of the artwork. So specifically integral to the forms are these Roman characters, Braille dots and pictographic images that the components take on a sense of being machines for reading in themselves, a series of threedimensional ‘books’ to be perused with the eyes and the fingertips. Inscribed stone tablets—whether housed in museums or replicated as set pieces in science fiction films—infer a permanent text that has been achieved at great effort, in order to address readers of the future. Famously, the Rosetta Stone fixed in time a decree issued at Memphis by Ptolemy V in 196 BC. It held three forms of writing: Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Ancient Greek. Comparing the Greek and Demotic scripts confirmed that the texts were the same, thus providing a key to a modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs, a language previously thought unknowable. In EcoSoMo, a new pictographic system, devised by collaborating graphic designer Ross Chandler, sits alongside Roman and Braille characters. It features a distinct image for each letter of the alphabet, functioning not as a new language, but rather as a visual code. Six of the modules contain the legend to translate these
images back to letters, words and sentences. The polyglot compositions, wedded to the stone-like surface, mix up the past, present and future, and playfully tease the viewer with legible meanings and coded translations. Gleaned from a variety of sources, the texts mirror the ecological and social framework of the project. Words that describe the climate and weather patterns, the soil and mineral composition, the flora and fauna of Burnaby Mountain flow in diverse characters. Historical notes on the explorer Simon Fraser and the university bearing his name, along with formal and informal references—from lesson plans to bird-watching blogs—reiterate the role of computation and information technology in setting the parameters of the artwork, and in defining the categories of culture and nature. EcoSoMo plays with how we have imagined the future – as a version of the past rendered new again, and just as mysterious. The artwork allows us to sit and inhabit a seemingly alien system, explore its tactility and experiment with old and new technologies of coding and holding information. As always, nature is in our proximity. A part of the world as we know it is described on smooth, expansive planes. As conditions, climates and fields of knowledge change, these groupings will stand as a record of the impulse to document, encode and assert our presence on the mountaintop.
Concrete Tree Imprint Amelia Epp and Kevin Sandgren
Having studied Sociology and Visual Arts at Simon Fraser University, Amelia Epp went on to complete graduate studies in Art Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. Experimentation, collaboration, and play are important components of her practice as both an artist and educator. Her art practice focuses on materials such as paper, wood, thread and wire, or repurposed discarded objects such as plastic and tea bags, to construct installation works, sculptures and collages. The exploration of inherent material properties is integral to Epp’s artistic process, and involves collecting and sorting, tearing and sewing, dyeing and molding, deconstructing and casting diverse objects and substances to discover their aesthetic and structural potential. Her work has been exhibited at Deer Lake Gallery, Burnaby, Seaside Centre, Sechelt, Maple Ridge Art Gallery, Gibsons Public Art Gallery, and Macy Gallery, New York.
The first work of public art initiated by the SFU Community Trust at UniverCity is Concrete Tree Imprint, installed in 2006. Amelia Epp and Kevin Sandgren, undergraduate students in Fine Arts and the Humanities at that time, responded to an open call for proposals.
lifted from the ‘real’, and carry forward the cultural meanings and associations we have for the natural object into the abstract. Speaking to a public that did not yet exist, the artwork takes the shape of an oblique marker, a sign to be read and deciphered in the future.
As a consideration of the abrupt change that was about to happen, Epp and Sandgren’s proposal focused on the contrasts and connections between the natural landscape and the new community that was to come. The artwork drew directly from its surroundings over the two years of its development: surroundings that have changed markedly since its completion. In an area cleared in order for construction to begin, Epp and Sandgren chose segments of felled deciduous trees of a scale and shape appropriate for casting. These sections— containing branch collars, forks and knots—were then cast in three concrete cubes and assembled in an off-kilter column. The casting process captures the minute surface details of the bark and the shape and volume of the limbs, and embeds this information directly in the concrete modules like fossilized remains. Stacked in quarter turns, the sections twist away from the centre axis, disrupting the stability of a monumental form and making tentative the relationship between the heavy blocks. The void spaces that once held the tree sections still hold their places, and reassembled as a trio of absences, mark an idea of a tree. In parallel, texts tracing the history of the word ‘tree’ itself, are inscribed on altering faces of the blocks. Both the image and the text are
The sculpture was installed in a clearing beside one of the pedestrian trails that crossed the UniverCity site, as the construction of a residential building was underway. That development has progressed substantially with the addition of a school, shops, services and more housing, thereby completely transforming the physical and social context of Concrete Tree Imprint. Once poised on the edge of the forest it now marks walkways that link a full-fledged community. Older than the buildings that surround it, the artwork documents the beginning point of the neighbourhood and a moment of impact on the forest on which it was founded. Concrete is the signature material of Arthur Erickson’s architectural practice, and his use of the raw substance for the SFU campus sets simple geometric forms and unadorned surfaces against the complexity of the abundant, ever-changing mountain forest. The meaningful effect of this contrast endures. Once cured, the fluid functionality of concrete mimics the properties of stone and carries the weight and precise angles of monumentality. Epp and Sandgren press these two elements—impressionable concrete and harvested tree—together, to imprint upon our memory an index of a moment in time.
Kevin Sandgren has a Masters Degree in Religious Studies from Queen’s University, and a Bachelor of Humanities with a Minor in History from SFU. During his academic career, Sandgren achieved the Honor Roll and Golden Key status, and was the recipient of the Institute for the Humanities Gandhi Peace Award. In 2009, he was commissioned to complete a public artwork for the Alberta Avenue Streetscape Image Project by the Edmonton Arts Council and during the production of Concrete Tree Imprint, Sandgren met Peter Charron of Charron Studios in Vancouver. Sandgren continues to work there as a prop builder and fabricator, contributing to such films as Underworld: Awakening; The Grey, A-Team, Sucker Punch and the television series Once Upon a Time; Fringe, V, and Alcatraz.
Nest with Chrome Eggs Bruce Voyce
Arts have been integral throughout the life of Bruce Voyce. He’s always believed in the importance of contributing to the well being of others leading to a degree in Physiotherapy from McGill University. During an extended period of recuperation in the hospital, Voyce began to sculpt and explore the transformative power of art. Public art became his guiding force, and he studied art in both Florence and Pietrasanta Italy. At Capilano University independent studies allowed Voyce to develop processes for creating large scale artwork. Since 2005 his public art has animated public spaces as far away as Japan. Each project is an exploration of history, culture, form and public engagement. “I have a strong belief in the transformative power of public art. It is clear to me that this artwork not only defines our public spaces, but our shared values and future.”
Bruce Voyce has long believed that art has transformative power, opening the minds and hearts of others. Public art shapes shared spaces into places of inspiration and connection. By exploring the interface between nature and humanity, Voyce’s work, including Nest with Chrome Eggs celebrates life. Voyce’s realization of the public imagination by changing a passing moment into something mysterious and beautiful, utilizes an evolving exploration of materials. Hybrid forms are created that are simultaneously natural and artificial. His sculptures read in a way that is familiar and enigmatic—there is a step beyond self-expression, towards illuminating physical consciousness. Sculpture specifically can interconnect the realms of art, science, nature and humanity. Public art can act as a unified gesture of permanence. Nature gently reclaims technology; the landscape is integrated with the art, and the art with the land. With these principles in mind, the environment becomes a theatre, creating a world of possibilities and wonder. Each work of art speaks of craftsmanship and a unique vision. Art, science, nature and technology, history and mythology all have influence in Voyce’s process and these influences mingle within the artwork. He feels that connecting these disparate fields is important for human progress. Nest with Chrome Eggs was created at the request of the City of Burnaby Landscape Architect Kate Clark. The artwork is seen as a unique feature that connects the arbour to the elements of the surrounding
natural landscape. A bird’s nest was chosen to be integrated into an existing large tree stump in the adjacent forest. Creating a sense of wonder and mystery, the metal nest speaks of a fusion of the natural and artificial. The landscape is integrated with the artwork and the artwork is integrated with the landscape. Created with a very modest budget, the artwork has reflective elements that speak of the way that birds such as crows are known to add reflective material into their nests to “adorn” their home with beauty. The sculpture is a playful homage to the idea of home and how we are drawn to customize and beautify our living spaces. The artwork speaks of the very nature of Landscape Architecture and our relationship with nature.
Nightswimming Brent Comber Free play needs space— to launch quick and slow movements, for loud and quiet activity, for gathering in groups and for being on one’s own. Within the expansive and multi-level play space at UniverCity’s Childcare Centre, space2place designers and local artists have collaborated on creating an environment in which all these forms of experimentation and performance can co-exist and overlap. The environment they have created invites exuberance and imagination, and through the carefully chosen natural materials of three of its features, expresses a reverence for the forests of the West Coast.
Brent Comber was born and continues to work in North Vancouver, on the slopes of the Coastal Mountain range. His discovery of old wood and its capacity to tell stories in a rich and expressive language has led to an active practice in crafting functional objects, artworks and installations.
Titled after a resonant memory from Brent Comber’s childhood, Nightswimming is encountered at the entrance to the Childcare Centre. Three hefty steps are hewn from the middle section of a nineteen-foot Western Red Cedar, while preserving the original girth of the log on either end. Sourced directly from the site, it has been skinned of bark, while preserving the trails and pathways of beetles beneath. Looking closer, we notice the difference between the meandering traces of bug-logic and the more linear saw blade incisions of human habits. These rudimentary cuts reveal the ringed history of the tree itself, placing all these processes of growth and use into sequence. Whether we rest firmly on the stairs, or perch above them like a log driver, our attention is drawn underfoot. How does material enter memory and remain there? Certainly through language, but also and more viscerally through the imprint of our movements and our senses: how we strive to balance
on a surface curved like a planet, or trace with our fingertips an insect’s neighbourhood and recognize our enormity. The scent of resin when soggy and when paper-dry, the solid sound that vibrates from under our landing feet, the sense of how porous matter holds the sun and the water and the saw’s impression: all these embed importantly, to form a memory.
Rootwad Cedar Climber Warren Brubacher Warren Brubacher has lived and worked in Brackendale, north of Squamish since 1990. In addition to working with natural wood, Warren is an experienced log home builder and blacksmith. Several of his artworks can be seen along the dyke in Brackendale, in Whistler’s Rainbow Park and on the Cheakamus River.
Based on Hornby Island, Alastair Heseltine works with mixed media relating to the environment. His formal choices are guided by the inherent nature of the material, and by construction methods discovered through mindful observation and play. Design, craft production, farming and the routines of rural life support and inspire his practice.
Set in the sand at the UniverCity Childcare Centre’s ground level, an up-ended stump evokes the discoveries to be found on a day at the beach. In contrast to the terraced plantings and curved concrete pathways that encircle it, the stretched limbs, knees and elbows give this object creature-like qualities. This specimen can bear weight, and can indulge the impulse to balance, swing and jump. It cradles a boulder in the tangle of roots, and its knots and variegated skin reward both visual and tactile curiosity. Pockets of shade and small sheltering bays are formed at its base, inviting experiments in crafting miniature worlds. Warren Brubacher states “There are only pockets of the original forest remaining within the BC rainforest and the ancient stumps and remnants that are left behind from logging here in the Squamish area are the treasures that I gather.” This irregular ‘wild wood’ carries with it centuries of history in the gnarls, twists and burls that deem it unusable, and these sculptural features blossom as he cleans, carves and sandblasts the forms. Brubacher has repurposed this massive stump for his installation, with an eye to preserving hand and footholds, while smoothing and finishing the sinewy roots. His process unearths the tenacity found in how the tree once worked its way around rock, sought sustenance and clung to the earth, and preserves an ancient story to be learned hands-on. The sculptural play huts devised by Alastair Heseltine are formed from pliable cedar branches cast off from logging operations and woven in a manner reminiscent of
Woven Huts Alastair Heseltine
‘wattling’, an ancient technique of fence and wall construction found throughout the UK. The stately urn-shaped huts vary in their height and width according to the natural spring of the stripped green boughs as they are held taut and rooted by metal armatures. In following the arc of a sapling from foundation to peak, and in tracing how it is joined with others, one observes the strength and integrity of these contingent structures. Laid out in a small village with a meandering gravel path, the dwellings introduce a quiet sense of ceremony to the rooftop level of the Childcare Centre. The boughs are bundled at the base, creating curved doorways to the domed interiors. Within the protection of the enclosures, one may hide or seek, spy on the outside spaces, and gaze up through a chimneylike opening to see framed views of the sky. Curtained by the textures and scents of the forest, small gatherings and quiet conversations are given room. These shelters introduce the unique and irregular variations of things that grow to the echoing curves and precise angles of the surrounding hardscape. As the elements weather the cedar, and the seasons are coloured by change, the timelessness and endurance of these forms remain. Taken together, and in a beautiful collaboration with the adventurous features, abundant space and clean design elements of the Childcare Centre, the three works respect the seriousness of play. Set apart, in each of three areas, the works are heightened through their contrast to the materials and forms that surround them.
The shiny chute that slides from the rooftop to the sandpit, the smoothly curved ribs set close to the play huts, the berm that nestles Nightswimming: all provide a balance between the carefully machined or engineered and the skillfully handmade. Amongst the scatter of tricycles and other investigative tools, these works carry an intimacy and knowledge that stems from the artists’ lifelong relationship with the land. Heseltine, Brubacher and Comber have tested the strength, explored the capacities and qualities, and brought forward the histories of the materials they use. In doing so, they invite these same creative acts: to measure oneself against the scale and weight of ancient timber, to study its potential and to interpret its character.
Altitude Altaire Unive
Highland House UniverCity Childcare Centre
University Highlands Elementary School
rsity H igh St reet
AK Concrete Tree Imprint BV Nest with Chrome Eggs BC Nightswimming
One University Crescent
ES Yellow Fence MS EcoSoMo
DK Near As Far As Far As Near Banners
WA Woven Huts & Rootwad Cedar Climber
Towe r Roa d
UniverCityâ€™s public art program supports and celebrates West Coast artists. Their works contribute to community life on Burnaby Mountain and we thank these artists and our development partners for enriching the UniverCity experience.
Richard Bolton Park
Highla nd Co urt
Water Tower Building
Un ive rs ity Dr
SFU Community Trust Suite 130, 8960 University High Street Burnaby, BC V5A 4Y6 www.UniverCity.ca
A guidebook of the Public Art at UniverCity.