Donald Forster Sculpture Park
Explore the Donald Forster Sculpture Park and its 41 permanent installations, located on two-and-a-half acres adjacent to the AGG building.
In 1983, the Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG) grounds were developed into the Donald Forster Sculpture Park to be used for permanently sited sculptures, temporary installations of large-scale pieces, and an outdoor activity space for events like children’s art classes. The outdoor sculpture collection is enhanced with landscaping elements such as paved areas, lighting, berms, and plantings appropriate to the design of the park and siting of individual works. The objective is to acquire sculptures that represent the best work being produced in Canada while including some examples of historical and international works. The Sculpture Park is a unique tourist attraction for the city and region and an important educational resource for area educational institutions. Six commissions have been funded with the generous support of du Maurier Arts Ltd. The AGG Volunteer Association has also contributed to the development of the Sculpture Park by raising art acquisition funds through the annual Gardenscapes garden tour. This outstanding venue for permanent sculpture by Canadian artists ranks among the best and most diverse sculpture parks in Canada.
The Donald Forster Sculpture Park, located on two-and-a-half acres adjacent to the building, is a major curatorial project that contributes significantly to AGG’s overall programming objective to present exhibitions, research, and a dynamic collection of contemporary Canadian Art. It is the largest sculpture park at a public gallery in Canada, featuring 41 works by prominent Canadian and international artists. The Sculpture Park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Search & Sketch Scavenger Hunt
Try your hand at our Search & Sketch scavenger hunt. Perfect for families and children. Let the search begin! Pick up a clipboard at the information desk during your next visit or download a copy online to play.
Image detail: William Noah, Kivioq’s Journey Ends, 2005, limestone. Commissioned with funds donated by the Class of 1955, on the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Macdonald Institute, in memory of Professor Gordon Couling, 2005, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Presented in partnership with the University of Guelph.
Steel and concrete
Commissioned with funds donated by University of Guelph Alumni with assistance from the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, 1983, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Passages by Kosso Eloul (1920-1995) was the first sculpture to be permanently sited in the Donald Forster Sculpture Park, located at the symbolic entrance to the park at the corner of Gordon Street and College Avenue. Eloul intended viewers to experience the sculpture on four different levels: (1) as a physical object that, originally, included an open thruway that could be traversed by visitors; (2) as an emotional experience with the three large rectangular forms in a seemingly precarious balance; (3) on an intellectual level through the high modern aesthetic of minimalist form and colour; and (4) as a symbol of the historic and architectural formalism of traditionally built structures. Made from steel and concrete, Passages evokes strength and reveals something of the human psyche, compelling a multitude of experiential responses in the viewer.
FUN FACT: Kosso Eloul studied at the Chicago Art Institute (1939-1943), where he was greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “humanistic sculpture-like architecture.”
Commissioned with funds raised by the Art Centre Volunteers with assistance from the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, 1985, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Mother and Child by Walter Bachinski (born 1939, lives and works in Shanty Bay, ON) was inspired by the artist’s trips to Paris, France and his desire to create sculpture on the theme of maternity, including the art historical trope of the Mother and Child. The relief sculpture’s location in the park was chosen to take full advantage of the morning, midday, and afternoon sun, which provide a raking light across its surface, emphasizing the lines and contours of the figurative forms. This is a contemporary piece that reveals a classical tradition, both in medium (bronze) and subject matter (mother and child). Bachinski intended to evoke a strong emotion in the viewer, while positioning the piece in the tranquility of a leafy nook. The proportions of the female figure are modern, her generous thighs emphasizing her matronly role.
FUN FACT: In 1967, Bachinski became an associate professor at the University of Guelph, where he taught drawing and printmaking. The School of Fine Art dedicated the Print-Study Collection in honour of Bachinski and his contemporary, Gene Chu.
Purchased through the Florence G. Partridge Fund in consultation with the Ontario Agricultural College, 1986, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Frances Loring’s (1887-1968) Turkey was one of the earliest sculptures acquired for permanent installation in the sculpture park. It depicts a life-sized, fully plumed turkey, cast in bronze. This sculpture was cast posthumously (after the artist’s death in 1968). Loring and her partner and fellow sculptor, Florence Wyle, worked to bring the practice of representational sculpture into the realm of fine arts. They were jointly recognized for their post-war sculpture and became known as “The Girls.” Loring’s first major commission with Wyle was a series of bronze statuettes that depicted the Canadian War effort. Loring became a Charter Member of the Sculptors Society of Canada, performing the roles of treasurer (1928-1952) and vice president (1942).
FUN FACT: In 2001, Loring’s Turkey and Wyle’s The Harvester (#4) were relocated in the park to be closer to Andrew Hunters’ In the Pines (#22). Together the three sculptures tell a fictional love story set in Guelph’s early agricultural community.
Purchased with funds donated by the Class of 1947, Ontario Agricultural College, on their 40th Anniversary, with assistance from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, 1986, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
The Harvester by Florence Wyle (1881-1968) depicts a standing male figure drinking deeply from a water jug. This representational sculpture emphasizes the physicality of the figure, particularly the dynamic upper torso. An agricultural labourer, his posture communicates strength and his gesture replenishment. He is a noble and dignified figure. Throughout her practice Wyle honoured the working class, both male and female. Wyle and her partner Frances Loring together were known as “The Girls.” They lived in the American Midwest before moving to Toronto. Both prolific artists, they were well known for their war memorials and sculptures of workers in the munitions industry. Wyle originally studied medicine; however, after taking mandatory drawing, painting, and sculpting courses, she chose to be a professional artist.
FUN FACT: In 1924, Wyle was the only Canadian female juror for the British Empire exhibition at Wembley England.
Purchased with funds donated by University of Guelph Alumni with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, and with funds raised by the Art Centre Volunteers, 1986, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Lightmare by Cynthia Short (born 1949, lives and works in Toronto, ON) depicts a standing female figure and a life-size horse cast in bronze. The female is positioned with her back turned to the horse. She peers down at her hands in which she holds a cloth, appearing to be in a contemplative state. The horse’s stance is erect and full of tension, its head turned in the direction of the figure. The sculpture is rough and mottled in texture, with indistinct features. Although the figures are static, the surface texture of the sculpture suggests a sense of movement. Short intended to create a sculpture that communicates a feeling of vulnerability, particularly in her depiction of the female figure. Viewers are able to engage with the work, walking around and in between the figures, questioning their role within the piece.
FUN FACT: An earlier version of Lightmare was created in 1983 from papier maché, in which the horse was illuminated from within by a light positioned in its abdomen.
Commissioned with funds donated by du Maurier Arts Ltd., University of Guelph Alumni, and the Guelph Arts Council, and with support from the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and from the Canada Council for the Arts, 1987, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Magic Wood by Tony Urquhart (born 1934, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a large, cruciform-shaped shaped steel frame that mimics the nave, transept, and apse structures of a church. Located within a grove of trees, its “walls” are formed by the surrounding environment. At the centre of the steel frame stands one of the “Urquhart boxes,” a recreation of an artwork from the artist’s early career that is meant to draw viewers into the architectural form. The “Urquhart box” has four hinged “wings” that can be manipulated by hand and echo the church structure around it. When manipulated, the viewer is given a sense of control over the sculpture. Its placement within a treed area was chosen to blend the sculptural arches into the leafy canopy and to reflect organic shapes found in nature. Urquhart’s sculpture also addresses the changing daily climate and the four seasons.
FUN FACT: Tony Urquhart began to sketch outdoor monuments in the early 1970s. Magic Wood has been repainted numerous times since it was installed in the Sculpture Park, often in colours that blend with the changing seasons.
Steel and copper
Commissioned with funds donated by du Maurier Arts Ltd. with assistance from the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, and from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 1987, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Enclosure with Sections of a Horse and Soldier by Robert Wiens (born 1953, lives and works in Toronto, ON) features fragments of an equestrian monument encased in a crypt-like enclosure of steel. This sculpture comments on the famous equestrian monument Gattamelata (1453) by Donatello (1386-1466), which is the earliest surviving example of a Classical equestrian portrait. Gattamelata, a conquering hero, embodies the militaristic and political ideals of heroism, morality, and honorary warfare. Wiens’ fragmented replica of Donatello’s statue makes a statement that the ideals of the past are gone. The latticed steel enclosure and copper sculpture within are made of newer materials than the traditional bronze historical monuments, challenging the notions of timelessness and sculptural immortality. Wiens’ figures are monumental in size, asserting a connection to the past while positioning the work in a contemporary context. The shape of the enclosure mimics a crypt but also resembles a horse carrier used for transportation. The fractured pieces, both of the past and of life in times of war and conflict, symbolize loss. The confined conqueror is evocative in its implications of faceless militarism and human mortality.
FUN FACT: “Gattamelata” means “honeyed cat” or “sweet cat.” This was the nickname of Erasmo da Narni, the mercenary depicted in Donatello’s sculpture, which is located in the main square in Padua, Italy.
Commissioned with funds donated by the Class of 1930, Ontario Agricultural College, on their 50th anniversary, with sponsorship from du Maurier Arts Ltd., and with support from the Ontario Government through the Ministry of Culture and Communication, 1989, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Mask by Evan Penny (born 1953, lives and works in Toronto, ON) challenges the idea of traditional monumental art and its association with the highest norms in society: as a propaganda tool promoting civic causes, serving the wealthy or powerful figures. Penny states that “the intent of the work is to counter-evoke the authoritative posture of most historical public figurative sculpture.” Mask was created to encourage viewers to interact with the sculpture, as well as to question their perception of the piece. Penny installed his larger-than-life sculpture in a location that would be immediately accessible to the general public, easily visible to passersby and street traffic. Mask depicts the features of a youthful androgynous face, its nose pressed into the slope of the ground and the concave (reverse) side of the mask facing up. The optics of the mask make it appear to be more solid and idealized from the distance, its perspective and dimensionality changing based on the viewer’s proximity to the sculpture. The viewer is placed in an authoritarian position, playing a role in the creation and meaning of the image, a reversal of the traditional public viewer’s role.
FUN FACT: In 1981, only two years after graduating with a BFA degree from the Alberta College of Art, Evan Penny received his first major solo exhibition, held at the Edmonton Art Gallery. The face in Mask is a portrait of Penny’s contemporary, Stephen Andrews, a nationally acclaimed artist who is also represented in the collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph.
Steel and copper
Gift of Ginty and Lorie Jocius and their children Daiva, Gavin, and Jordon, in memory of Yosef Drenters, 1990, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Pioneer Family by Andreas Drenters (born 1937, lives and works in Rockwood, ON) is dedicated to Drenters’ older brother Yosef, a well-known sculptor who died suddenly in 1983 at the age of 52. After his death, Drenters rediscovered Yosef’s plans for a 30-foot-tall sculpture, titled Pioneer Family, which was created for Expo 67 in Montreal, reportedly the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century. Drenters’ sculpture is made of remnants from Yosef’s original Pioneer Family sculpture, combined with scrap metal and repurposed farming tools and machinery. Drenters’ Pioneer Family is both an homage to his brother’s life and work and an example of the use of waste and salvaged materials in the making of art.
FUN FACT: Yosef Drenters was the first Canadian sculptor whose art was accepted into New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Andreas Drenters’ Pioneer Family was unveiled to the public on April 28, 1990, the same day as the opening reception for an exhibition honouring his brother, Yosef Drenters: A Lifetime of Drawing.
Commissioned with funds donated by the Guelph Daily Mercury and the Ontario Veterinary College, and with assistance from the Ontario Government through the Ministry of Culture and Communications, 1990, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Mindemoya by Frances Gage (born 1924, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a bronze sculpture based on the artist’s own dog. The sculpture is intended to evoke a sense of familiarity and comfort creating a moment of domesticity within the public domain. It aims to engage viewers in recalling their own ideas of personal and public spaces. The sculpture’s texture suggests the ample fur of a well-kept canine. The realism of the dog conjures notions that it is alive and simply resting on the cool earth of the garden. Mindemoya rests passively within the domain of feral creatures (squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, and the like).
FUN FACT: Miniature versions of this sculpture were cast to honour individuals who have made significant contributions to the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC). The first recipient was Robert Murray, who served for 9 years on the OVC advisory council.
Commissioned with funds donated by du Maurier Arts Ltd. and by the Gordon and Evelyn Couling Estate, 1991, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Things as They are: Guelph, September 27, 1990 by Catherine Burgess (born 1953, lives and works in Edmonton, AB) is the eleventh permanently installed piece in the Sculpture Park. Burgess proposed a sculpture in the form of a table with several abstracted objects placed on top: its landscape-like topography is intended to suggest different things to each viewer. The simplified forms of the sculpture become autobiographical as viewers seek to give them meaning through their own experience of the piece. The title of the sculpture is the date of Burgess’ site visit to Guelph upon receiving the sculpture commission. Although the sculpture serves a practical bench-like function, it was not commissioned as part of the gallery’s Artist Bench series. Burgess makes psychological connections to locations and objects. She states that “the forms of these objects, their placement, and their inter-relationships result in abstract sculptures, which also function as personal narratives, autobiographical in their nature.”
FUN FACT: Catherine Burgess was the first out-of-province artist to be awarded a commission and the third woman to have a sculpture permanently sited in the Sculpture Park.
Aluminum boat, outboard motor, and stainless steel
Purchased with funds donated by du Maurier Arts Ltd., 1992, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Stray Plow by Brian Scott (born 1955, lives and works in Toronto, ON) addresses the boundaries between natural and cultural domains. Scott encourages viewers to consider the productivity and usefulness of our land and water. Sculpted waves in the grass signify the wake of a boat and also a ploughed field. The boat is seemingly adrift in the park, guided by no one, with a sheet of polished stainless steel fitted into the interior cavity of the boat. The mirrored sheen symbolizes water, reversing visual expectations. Scott’s artistic practice is within the surrealist realm, stressing the subconscious or non-rational significance of imagery through comparisons or juxtapositions. The reflective surface serves as an allusion. The boat is landlocked, its prow lifted as though by waves of grass, which also mimic troughs of dirt created by a farmer’s plow. Stray Plow is Scott’s response to the representations of landscape and agriculture in Canadian art and points to notions of human progress, evolution, and technology as its frame of reference.
FUN FACT: Stray Plow was first commissioned for the Toronto Sculpture Garden in 1991 and was not initially intended to be a permanent sculpture. Brian Scott studied at the renowned Central Saint Martins School of Art in London, England.
Commissioned with funds donated by Isabel McLaughlin in memory of Norah McCullough, 1993, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Three Grains of Wheat by John Greer (born 1944, lives and works in West Dublin, NS and Pietrasanta, Italy), like his other sculptures in the park, explores the relationship between subject matter, materiality, and scale. The monumentally scaled grains of wheat are the size of large birds: the grains are so beyond their natural size as to verge on the absurd. With this work, Greer asks us to consider our relationship with the environment. The sculpture occupies a different visual field when the scale of wheat is compared to the human form drawing a connection between agricultural and human development. The piece emphasizes “perception and experience.” The grains serve as icons of nourishment and symbolize humankind, who rely on them for sustenance. Three Grains of Wheat reminds viewers of what enables us to thrive physically, culturally, and economically.
FUN FACT: Three Grains of Wheat was commissioned with funds donated to the gallery in tribute to Norah McCullough, who was a well-respected art educator and historian. McCullough was best known for her extensive cataloging and research of the works of Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer (1884-1969), with whom she worked at the Art Galley of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) before embarking on a distinguished career at the National Gallery of Canada.
Stainless steel and bronze
Commissioned with support from the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and from the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Recreation, 1994, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Memory Cell by Reinhard Reitzenstein (born 1949, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a stainless steel archway with a bronze casting of a found honeycomb at its peak. With this sculpture Reitzenstein explored the idea of memory through the use of imagery and objects found in culture and in nature. His incorporation of the bees nest represents the natural memory that is encoded within insect cultures, allowing them to forage and communicate. This sculpture assumes a zoomorphic trait: the honey bee nest is a life-size form that nonetheless has the potential to perform like its source. The archway in Memory Cell is an architectural framing device that references societal institutions such as galleries, churches, libraries, and governmental buildings where cultural objects are collected and preserved. The sculpture is positioned at the south end of the park in a treed area traversed by students who habitually crisscross the grounds between the bus stop at the front of the gallery and the University campus. A well trod pathway through the grass now extends from the bus stop directly through Memory Cell, giving daily evidence of interactions with the sculpture.
FUN FACT: Reinhard Reitzenstein has been called a “modern alchemist,” someone who transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Steel, Plexiglas, and aluminum
Purchased with funds donated by du Maurier Arts Ltd. and by the Art Centre Volunteers, 1994, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Crab Legs (Studio) by Kim Adams (born 1951, lives and works in Grand Valley, ON) is the artist’s “dream studio,” which includes a combined living and working space that is about one-third life-sized in scale. The bottom level of the studio is designed for creating sculptures, while the upper levels are for living and contain kitchen, bedroom, and reading areas. The sculpture is fitted onto railway tracks, implying that the artist could transport his entire life and practice to any location reachable by rail. Adams produced a utopian object where art and utility are juxtaposed: it is a transportation device, a shelter, and a studio. Adams addresses our modern human need for security, comfort, mobility, and ownership while questioning our values and standards for living. In this way, the artist has combined two objects that appear to be opposites–a vehicle and architecture–commenting on contemporary urban life with its increasing mobility. By using mass produced and industrial objects, Crab Legs (Studio) is made to appear engineered, reconfiguring our notions of art, architecture, and even home. The end result is something at once familiar and alien, logical and illogical.
FUN FACT: Kim Adams was inspired to create Crab Legs (Studio) when he visited an abandoned open mine pit in Quebec and discovered a “tipple,” which is a device used to extract products for transport over rail. The little sculpture inside the workshop was dubbed “Timothy” by the artist.
Marble and steel
Gift of the Artist, 1996, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Gas Jets by John Greer (born 1944, lives and works in West Dublin, NS and Pietrasanta, Italy) are two large forms of mottled red and white marble carved to look like billowing clouds of amorphous gas. They echo many of Greer’s earlier works, in which the sculptor’s choice of materials contradicts their form and subject matter. Greer also explores the relationship between technologies and the material world. In Gas Jets, the gaseous flames take a solid and permanent form whereas the subject matter is, in actuality, in constant flux. The striations in the marble serve to enhance the ephemeral nature associated with gas. Here, marble represents something that is its material opposite, giving permanent form to an impermanent substance. Gas Jets, in its oppositions, brings a heightened awareness of the nature of physical matter in our surrounding environment.
FUN FACT: Gas Jets was originally intended to be an indoor sculpture before taking its place in the Art Gallery of Guelph’s Sculpture Park.
Commissioned through the Florence G. Partridge Fund in consultation with the Ontario Veterinary College and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 1997, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Agricultura by Jane Buyers (born 1948, lives and works in Elmira, ON) explores themes of education, nature, and knowledge. In conceiving the work, Buyers learned that the Sculpture Park was originally a garden plot used by students studying the domestic sciences at the Macdonald Consolidated School, in the building now occupied by the Art Gallery of Guelph. Buyers was inspired to create a sculpture that would reflect this history. The sculpted books in Agricultura are open to allow viewers to “read” them: one contains abstracted organic forms and the other contains finely detailed leaves. Supported by pedestals constructed from branches, the books reference nature and also allude to the idiom “to turn over a new leaf” meaning “to begin again” or “start a new chapter.” Buyers’ sculpted books also posit a visual library (aesthetic signs and symbols) rather than a written language. Buyers deconstructs the books’ essential meanings, transforming them into objects and inviting viewers to consider education in the context of nature. Agricultura also reflects the Guelph community’s historical roots and its investment in agricultural business practices.
FUN FACT: This sculpture was Jane Buyers’ first permanently sited, outdoor public art commission.
Commissioned with funds raised by the Art Centre Volunteers and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 1998, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Feather by John Greer (born 1944, lives and works in West Dublin, NS and Pietrasanta, Italy) is an ironic representation of an ordinary and diminutive object into a monumental form: a crow’s feather cast in bronze, standing 8 feet in height, and perched on the point of its quill. The crow, an intelligent bird that is seen as a symbol of both good and evil, suggests that the sculpture represents life’s goodness and its suffering. The arched line of the feather with its slightly bowed posture also implies a gesture of humility and respect. Its irony comes from the artist’s choice of a dense and heavy material to represent something so light and flexible.
FUN FACT: In 2015, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia presented the first major retrospective, titled Retro Active, of John Greer’s 40 year art career. In 2009, Greer was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Canada’s highest distinction in the field of art and culture.
Concrete and steel
Gift of the Artist, 1999, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Monad by Evan Penny (born 1953, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a monumental depiction of a human head made from layered steel shelves that hold hundreds of life-sized human heads cast in roughly finished concrete. The heads reference classical portrait busts in general form; however, their coarse texture contemporizes the visual language. “Monad” is a Greek word that means “a single unit often used in philosophy to refer to one indivisible entity or the ultimate totality of all beings.” The single unit of the head, here, is multiplied and the title can refer to one of the heads or the totality of all of them, which together form another head. Monad is part of Penny’s early explorations of scale. The repetition of the heads, which all face in the same direction, also emphasizes the power of the gaze: the power of looking and seeing.
FUN FACT: Monad was originally conceived as an indoor sculpture; however, it was installed outdoors on a private property before being gifted to the gallery. The artist enjoyed the weathering of the materials that had occurred and sought a permanent outdoor location for the work. The heads in Monad were modelled after fellow artist Stephen Andrews, whose likeness is also captured in Penny’s Mask.
Purchased with funds donated by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 1999, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Canadiana/Begging Bear by Carl Skelton (born 1961, lives and works in Toronto, ON) references Canada’s rich and varied wildlife traditions and is inspired by the stylized art forms of Canada’s Inuit. Skelton’s sculpture stands at the bus stop located on Gordon Street in front of the Art Gallery of Guelph. Canadiana/Begging Bear is arguably the most beloved sculpture in the park and is often costumed by clandestine members of the Guelph community, who use the bear’s popularity and street presence to promote community based events or to make public announcements. Although it wasn’t the artist’s original intent for the sculpture to perform as a public forum, Skelton welcomes this kind of community interaction with his art. Canadiana/Begging Bear stands at 7.5 feet tall and weighs over 300 pounds. Posed with one paw outstretched in a pleading gesture, the sculpture is an artistic metaphor for Canada’s native animals who have been displaced by cities built on their natural territories.
FUN FACT: When the sculpture was damaged in 2011, the local community raised over $12,000 to repair the sculpture and return the bear to its sentinel location at the bus stop. Canadiana/Begging Bear has its own Twitter page @TheBeggingBear anonymously authored by one of the bear’s biggest fans.
Fiberglass and mixed media
Commissioned through the Florence G. Partridge Fund in consultation with the Ontario Agricultural College and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2000, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
ex ovo omnia was created by FASTWÜRMS, the artist collective formed in 1979 by Kim Kozzi and Dai Skuse, who are based in Creemore, ON. The artists’ multidisciplinary practice includes the making of artworks that integrate time based, performance, and visual art in the context of immersive installations, public sculpture, social exchange, and event architecture. ex ovo omnia is designed to be the “egg” of the new millennium, shaped by the future and the adventure of science: the space capsule, the bathysphere, the egg of embryology, the cell of biology, and DNA. The interior of ex ovo omnia suggests a living space as organic shapes appear to grow from the walls like shelf fungi. By day, the interior is illuminated through circular window portholes; by night, ex ovo omnia glows from within. Through ex ovo omnia, FASTWÜRMS celebrate twenty-first century improvements in technology and human society, including the discovery of the human genetic code, while presenting strange animal/human hybrids as talismans for transformation and change.
FUN FACT: FASTWÜRMS also created the University of Guelph’s gryphon sculpture made of bronze, unveiled in 2014, which stands at the corner of Stone Road and Gordon Street.
Serigraph on aluminum, bronze
Commissioned through the Florence G. Partridge Fund in consultation with the College of Arts and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2001, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
In the Pines by Andrew T. Hunter (born 1963, lives and works in Toronto, ON) and William John Hunter (the artist’s father) is a retelling of a family ghost story that explores our cultural and geographical histories, the myths and legends in our popular cultures, and the social ideals they reveal. In the Pines contains imagery found within the University of Guelph’s Library Archives. Sunday’s Best, a 1904 photograph of a woman dressed in her finest clothing, demonstrates the proper way to rake a garden. Hunter enlarged the photograph and had it screen-printed on a sheet of aluminum. The accompanying bronze sculpture features a poem about a man and woman who fell in love but were separated when he leaves for the logging camps in Northern Canada, where he meets his demise. The carved frame on the portrait and the tombstone-like sculpture are meant to have the texture of wood, referring to the logging camps in the story. Measuring 6-by-4 feet, the In the Pines photograph is bolted directly to the exterior wall of the gallery and the bronze post is placed among the shrubbery in reference to nature’s symbolism of life and death.
FUN FACT: The sculptures Turkey, circa 1932 (#3) by Frances Loring and The Harvester, circa 1938 (#4) by Florence Wyle were relocated to be nearer to Andrew T. Hunter’s contemporary sculpture so that they would be seen by visitors as part of the In the Pines love story. Hunter is the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Commissioned with funds donated by James and Diane King and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2002, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Visionary by Beth Alber (lives and works in Toronto, ON) was created from pink granite extracted from Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. Visionary performs two roles: one as an artwork and the other as a functional bench in the Sculpture Park. It was the first sculpture commissioned as part of the gallery’s Artist Bench series. The piece of granite in Visionary was split into two sections as part of the artist’s creative process. Alber chose the stone to draw the connection between our nation and its geological foundation. Etched into the surface of the two halves is a quote by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister (1968-1979, 1980-1984): “A country is something that is built everyday out of certain basic values. And so it is in the hands of every Canadian to determine how well and wisely we shall build the country of the future.” The sculpture also depicts a stylized rose in tribute to the signature rose that Trudeau wore throughout his time in office. Trudeau, a visionary of bilingualism and multiculturalism in Canada, gained unprecedented support from Canada’s youth in a movement dubbed “Trudeaumania.” Although the sculpture celebrates Trudeau as a visionary, the crack in the stone offers critical commentary on the fractional state of our nation.
FUN FACT: Trudeau’s quotation is etched in the first Canadian-made typeface called Cartier, which was conceived in 1967 on Canada’s centennial but was not fully realized until the early 2000s.
Commissioned with funds donated by Ann Oaks and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2002, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
The Sickle and the Cell Phone by Gu Xiong (born 1953, lives and works in Vancouver, BC) explores cultural loss and transformation. Xiong’s artistic practice is influenced by his personal experiences in Maoist China where he was an agricultural labourer under the regime of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party. In the 1980s, multinational corporations targeted China as a place for the manufacture of commercial goods and many ordinary Chinese abandoned their traditional agricultural lifestyles to work in urban cities. Economic reform together with the desire for consumption of consumer goods made China one of the largest commercial markets in the world. Xiong represents agriculture with the sickle, which is a hand tool for cutting crops. The curved blade of the sickle can also be linked to the crescent moon, known as the planting moon. The sculpture balances on the blade, giving it an upsweeping verticality. The tip of the sickle is embedded inside a grossly oversized Nokia cell phone, which serves as a symbol of urbanization. The scale and the stark materiality of the sculpture represent the shifting balance of globalization and the agricultural economy.
FUN FACT: The Nokia cell phone is an exact replica of the artist’s own cell phone in 2002. As a representation of technology, the aesthetic of the phone is already dated, having been replaced by today’s touch screen communication devices.
Commissioned with funds donated by John Bligh and Nancy Bailey Bligh, 2002, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Dual School Bench by Verne Harrison (born 1955, lives and works in Guelph, ON) is both an art object and a functional bench commissioned as part of the gallery’s Artist Bench series that provides visitors with places to perch within an art specific experience. Harrison’s art work responds to the history of the building now occupied by the Art Gallery of Guelph. The bench offers seating for two and was modeled after an old school desk that was left in the building following its transformation from school house to art gallery (1975-1980). Visitors to the gallery often take their lunch at the Dual School Bench, placing their coffee cups in the hollow originally used as an inkwell. The child-like inscriptions in the desktop are the initials of Harrison’s daughters. Commissioned with support from John and Nancy Bligh, who are dedicated members and friends of the gallery, the couple’s initials “N & J” are etched into the sculpture. The piece is also inscribed with the words “Macdonald Consolidated School 1904” in commemoration of the building’s origins. Dual School Bench uses text and its subject matter to allude to the rich history of the site.
FUN FACT: The artist cast a wad of chewing gum in bronze, which is affixed to the underside of one of the desks. The artist’s own initials together with his wife’s initials all also carved inside a heart on one of the desktops.
Commissioned with funds donated by Heather and Brian Ayer, and by Diane and James King, with financial support from The Elizabeth Gordon Art Programme of the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation and from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2003, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Desire by Tom Dean (born 1947, lives and works in Toronto, ON) depicts a pair of bronze Renaissance-style figures: a life-sized swan with its wings outstretched over a cherubic male baby. The sculpture explores themes of desire, youth, and time, with the swan as a symbol of purity: a combination of feminine grace and masculine virility. Visually, the swan is cast to appear ruffled with its enormous wings extended and the lines in its neck full of tension as it wrestles with instincts of flight or fight. The baby’s body is softly rounded and is modeled in Renaissance fashion: a contemporary depiction of Cupid, the god of desire and fertility. In Desire, the swan and the baby are portrayed as two parts of a whole: the baby is the cause of the swan’s tension and the swan represents an inner struggle. The newborn takes for granted his youthfulness, ignorant to the fact that the swan is his future.
FUN FACT: The swan in Desire is modeled after the mute swan, which can grow up to 6 feet in length and is the second largest water fowl species in the world.
Painted stainless steel and bronze
Commissioned with funds from the Gordon and Evelyn Couling Estate and with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Program, 2003, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Push Pin by Derek Sullivan (born 1976, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is one of the Artist Bench commissions located within the park. Through his work, Sullivan attempts to design perfectly coordinated environments while mediating between high art and dollar store kitsch. He creates facsimiles of objects, from designer furniture to food wrappers, and uses unlikely objects to isolate and reproduce specific architectural details. With Push Pin, Sullivan removes the original function of the plastic push pin and replaces it with a grander purpose: to offer an artful stool for passersby and park visitors. The sculpture effectively transforms the property into one large cork board, a place where dynamic moments occur on a regular basis. Installed in 2003, Push Pin predates the digital evolution of web-based technologies, like Pinterest and Google Maps, which have co-opted the purpose and function of a traditional plastic push pin.
FUN FACT: Derek Sullivan is the youngest artist to be awarded a permanent outdoor sculpture in the park. The commission followed Sullivan’s MFA thesis exhibition, titled Workshopping, in which the artist spent hours in the gallery sketching ideas for an outdoor sculpture proposal, tacking his designs to the walls with push pins.
Aluminum, 1600 LEDs, anemometer
Commissioned with funds donated by Ron and Jean Higgins with support from the Florence G. Partridge Fund in consultation with the College of Biological Science and Campbell Scientific (Canada) Corporation, 2004, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Weather Station by Diane MacLean (born 1963, lives and works in St Albans, England) is a sculpture that explores weather patterns through the use of a roof-mounted anemometer, which is a device that reads wind speed and direction. The sculpture is comprised of eight circular forms mounted to the red brick exterior on the north face of the building. The anemometer sits atop the roof peak directly above the oval formation. Each disk contains coloured LED lights, which represent the cardinal points of the compass: blue for north, red for east, yellow for south, and green for west. The LED lights illuminate to indicate wind direction and respond to wind gusts. MacLean is a world renowned sculptor and environmental artist. Weather Station is her first Canadian installation, which performs both as an art work and as a functional scientific tool.
FUN FACT: The sculpture contains a total of 1600 light-emitting diodes (LED) and was created with the assistance of scientists at the University of Guelph. The University collects the data that is recorded by the anemometer, which is in turn used for scientific and educational purposes.
Enameled stainless steel
Purchased with funds donated by Helen Brimmell, 2003, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Weather Vane by Rodney Graham (born 1949, lives and works in Vancouver, BC) sits atop the roof peak at the south end of the building. Weather Vane depicts a man riding a bicycle, sitting backwards on the handle bars with his feet on the peddles. His perch pivots with the wind to align with the directional symbols that are mounted to the stainless steel rods below the figure. Like Diane MacLean’s Weather Station at the north end of the roof peak, Graham’s Weather Vane is both art and functional object. By creating a sculptural weather vane, Graham explores how weather is a critical component of our understanding and relationship to the local environment.
FUN FACT: Rodney Graham’s Weather Vane was produced after a drawing by contemporary artist Derek Root in a limited edition of 70, commissioned by Parkett 64 (2002), the internationally renowned publishing house based in Zurich and New York.
Commissioned with funds donated by the Class of 1955, on the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Macdonald Institute, in memory of Professor Gordon Couling, 2005, University of Guelph Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Kivioq’s Journey Ends by William Noah (born 1943, lives and works in Baker Lake, NU) is a contemporary retelling of the story of the Inuk hero Kivioq. Kivioq symbolizes the continuation of the Inuit culture and the Inuktitut language in the midst of modern society. The story tells the tale of Kivioq, who slays his unfaithful wife and her lover, and his subsequent unending journey across the unforgiving waters and terrain of the Arctic. Noah’s sculpture re-interprets the story by providing an ending to Kivioq’s journey. When he comes ashore, Kivioq and his kayak, together with a whale and a goose representing sea and land, are all turned to stone. The sculpture Kivioq’s Journey Ends is a contemporary inuksuk, a standing stone landmark that was historically used by the Inuit as a tool for navigation and communication. Noah depicts Kivioq with two standing stones upon which a large stone is placed: Kivioq resting his kayak upon the shore. The glittering quality of the stone reflects the glistening water as he emerges out of the sea. Most of Noah’s sculpture is made of limestone; however, Kivioq himself is represented by the granite stone with amethyst flecks.
FUN FACT: This sculpture was dedicated in memory of Professor Gordon Couling, the founding chair of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. The Class of 1955 (Macdonald Institute) revered Couling as their “directional marker” for the education of art.
Bronze and stone
Commissioned with funds raised by the Art Centre Volunteers and with financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2005, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Camp by Susan Detwiler (lives and works on Bowen Island, BC) explores the themes of urbanization and rural culture. The camp site appears frozen in time: a bronze coffee pot, boots, and a bedroll (with hatchet inside) sit atop boulders encircling a bronze fire pit. The sculpture symbolizes ideas of lost land and culture, but also the coexistence of urban and rural life. Camp is a monument to a rural environment in the midst of the city. Detwiler’s sculpture furthers her investigations of social policy and the perceptions of public and private space, notions of the ordinary and the familiar, and explores the boundaries between sculpture and architecture. Detwiler’s sculpture is the 31st permanent outdoor installation and the 4th Artist Bench commissioned for the park.
FUN FACT: The socks, boots, and bedroll in Camp were cast in bronze from the artist’s own camping equipment: the objects were incinerated in the casting process, creating perfect “fossils” in exquisite detail. The fire pit was the only component of Camp manufactured by hand before being cast in bronze.
Bronze and steel
Purchased with funds raised by the Art Centre Volunteers and with support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2004, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Achilles by Ted Fullerton (born 1953, lives and works in Barrie, ON) is a vertical, monumentally-scaled sculpture of a human leg. Fullerton’s use of fluid lines emphasizes the tactile and uneven surface of the sculpted form. The gestural quality of the sculpture suggests movement. Achilles opens up a discussion between physical interaction, outdoor installation, and materiality. The artist’s intention is for the viewer to understand the composition and material qualities through touch and contemplation. Sited within a grove of tall trees, viewers are invited to explore the relationship between the sculpture and its naturalized environment. The sculpture responds to the Greek myth of the noble warrior Achilles whose death from a small wound in his heel has been adapted to the contemporary idiom “Achilles heel” meaning “a person’s point of weakness.” Within this work, Fullerton explores the rift between humanity and our sacred stories by aligning symbolic figures with present day practices and ideas.
FUN FACT: In 2014, Ted Fullerton was awarded a major public art commission by the City of Guelph. Four sculptures, titled Birds of a Feather, A Bird in Hand, Bird/Watching, and Perch, were unveiled in downtown Guelph in July 2014.
Granite and bronze
Commissioned with the support of Augusta and Paul Tribe and their family, for the love of the arts, and with funds from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2006, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Colony by Mary Anne Barkhouse (born 1961, lives and works in Minden, ON) and Michael Belmore (born 1971, lives and works in Thunder Bay, ON) addresses notions of Aboriginal and colonial histories within the context of the Canadian wilderness. It features a beaver cast in bronze and an Ojibwa “Mishipeshu” carved in stone that reference the power of nature in the construction of identity. Barkhouse and Belmore have collaborated on several sculpture projects although they each maintain independent art practices. As Aboriginal artists, they strive to create work that both celebrates nature and forces us to consider our place within it. The massive piece of Laurentian granite was extracted from the Haliburton Highlands and carved by Belmore in Barkhouse’s Minden studio before being transported to Guelph. Belmore’s deep relief carving is of a “Mishipeshu,” the underwater lynx or panther that protects the marine world in Ojibwa culture, creating an illusion that the creature is emerging from the rock as if from water. Barkhouse created the bronze beaver that sits on top of the stone as a symbol of Canada’s rich and industrious history and as a comment on nature’s ability to overcome adversity. The beaver is one of the most resilient and adaptable creatures that has survived colonialism and land development over hundreds of years. Barkhouse’s beaver is a naturalistic rendering that is the counterpart to Belmore’s stylized “Mishipeshu.”
FUN FACT: The stone used in the piece is estimated to be 3 billion years old.
Purchased with support from the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre (Guelph) and from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2007, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Wood Calling Bronze by Michael Snow (born 1929, lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a rotary phone carved from wood, cast in bronze, and mounted on a wooden base. When the sculpture was made in 1989, critical reviewers nicknamed the piece the “Flintstone version of the dial up telephone.” Installed on a wooden bench at the entrance to the gallery, Wood Calling Bronze was made to impress upon viewers both the development and significance of inventions but also their impermanence. The memorializing of a rotary phone in bronze invites viewers to reflect upon the technological development of the phone, the significance of the invention, and also its evolution from a static form of communication to a mobile digital device. Telephone technology continues to be the most influential and important invention in contemporary society. Snow is an acclaimed Canadian artist, who works in sculpture, painting, video, film, photography, holography, drawing, books, and music.
FUN FACT: Michael Snow created two of the most iconic public sculptures in Toronto. Flightstop (1979), a flock of 60 life-sized Canadian Geese that soar overheard in the atrium of the downtown Eaton Centre, and The Audience (1989), over-life-sized renderings of excited fans above the main entrance to the Rogers Centre.
Gift of the Artist with sponsorship from Nancy Sullivan, Honorary Trustee, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, 2009, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Short Life, Long Branch by Michael Davey (lives and works on Toronto Island, ON) is installed on the red brick exterior at the south end of the building, overlooking the John Greer plaza in the sculpture park. Two bronze branches extend across the second and third story windows and are visible both from the inside and the outside. Miniature bronze skeletons in various postures and states of performance are perched on the branches. The skeletons appear lively, even celebratory. Davey uses traditional casting materials, in this case bronze, which he juxtaposes with non-traditional subjects. The unique and distinct viewing experiences invite viewers to engage differently with the work. From outside, the sculpture is seen at a distance and appears diminutive. From inside, the experience is intimate, enabling viewers to see the details in the bronze work. Davey states that the piece evokes the cycle of life and death, with the branch being a representation of life and the skeletons of death. The sculpture is also a “memento mori:” a call to remember that life is fragile and can change in an instant.
FUN FACT: Michael Davey’s inspiration for Short Life, Long Branch came after a near-death experience while skating on a frozen pond in northern Ontario. Davey fell through the ice and was rescued with the aid of a willow branch. The bronze branches in Short Life, Long Branch were cast from the same willow branch that saved the artist’s life.
Donated by Ronald Rhodes in memory of Jack and Vera Brackenborough, Arthur and Rita Rhodes, and Angelo and Elizabeth Taverna, 2010, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Standing Man by George Boileau (lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a solitary elderly figure clothed only in an overcoat that aims to create in the viewer an empathetic feeling of vulnerability and isolation. The figure’s posture is both melancholic and contemplative. Boileau’s intention for Standing Man was to visually depict “order and control of the physical, emotional, and intellectual worlds.” The figure’s coat signifies his worldview as a modern individual in a social structure that is both cold and isolating. He is vulnerable to the external elements with only his coat for protection, yet his face is upturned and his gaze is intent on the gallery’s building. He is a figure of both fragility and strength. Boileau used bronze as a symbolic counter weight to the frailness of the man, but also to express the timelessness of the sculpted human form.
FUN FACT: It takes four to six months to cast a sculpture like Standing Man, including: (1) the creation and cutting of a wax figure into separate cast-ready pieces; (2) the creation of a runner system through which the molten bronze will flow; (3) the coating of each wax piece with seven layers of ceramic shell; (4) the pouring of molten metal; (5) the production of a bronze shell measuring 3/16th of an inch thick; (6) the welding of the individual parts; (7) sand blasting to smooth the surface; and finally, (8) finishing of the external patina.
Commissioned with funds donated by Helen Brimmell and with support from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2012, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Before Flight by Janet Morton (born 1963, lives and works in Guelph, ON) was created to explore the idea of home through materiality and time. The sculpture is composed of two parts: a bronze-cast bird’s nest measuring approximately 6-feet-across perched on top of a 20-foot-tall limestone Doric column. Morton used the Doric column as a Classical motif that references Greek architecture as well as the columned porch at the entrance to the gallery. Columns are the foundation for modern architecture and symbolize stability, power, authority, and quality. In Before Flight, Morton is interested in the dichotomies of permanence and impermanence, stability and transition, the domesticated and the feral. The sculpture also combines two conceptual themes that have persisted in Morton’s work for almost twenty years: the monumental and the idea of home. This seemingly simple juxtaposition posits the tensions between natural and constructed worlds: one is a temporal structure, the other is an architectural form intended to stand the test of time.
FUN FACT: Most of Janet Morton’s work explores notions of time and temporality as experienced through experimental materials, performance art, and temporary outdoor installations. Before Flight is Morton’s first permanently sited public sculpture and the only artwork she has made in stone and bronze.
Brass, John Cabot climbing roses
Commissioned with support from the Florence G. Partridge Fund and from the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program, 2013, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Collection at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Artifact of Invention by Gord Peteran (lives and works in Toronto, ON) is a 30-foot-long dining table composed of intricately welded pieces of reclaimed brass, beneath which is a bed of roses that has been cultivated to grow up and through the table’s fractured surface. Artifact of Invention explores a very simple relationship: the dynamics between two people as enacted in the “theatre of the home.” The sculpture explores the notion that “objects of the home reveal our deepest struggles” and that “our built environment is patterned after the subconscious: a place of potentially perfect ideas, events, and objects.” Through his art, Peteran strives to reveal furniture’s role as a multi-faceted body prosthetic, both physically and conceptually. He asks: “Is the fabricated ‘home’ as docile, pragmatic, and friendly as we would wish, or is it a theatre of ego and inadequacy, of psychological armor and aggression?”
FUN FACT: The artist engraved his name on each and every piece of reclaimed brass used in the construction of the sculpture.
Earth, plant materials, and reclaimed locally-quarried limestone
Commissioned with funds raised by the AGG Volunteer Association with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Fund
Circle Mound was the 39th permanent installation in the AGG’s sculpture park, created by artist Don Russell (Acadian/Mi’kmaq). Working with the land itself, the earthwork speaks to the Indigenous history and presence that is indelibly and inextricably part of the Canadian landscape and that of communities nationally, and to creative expression as meaningful acts of reconciliation.
The sculpture was made possible through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Guelph Community Foundation Musagetes Fund.
Cast in bronze, the “suite” builds on Seth’s interest in everyday places that evoke life in the 1950s – from cities and buildings to the coffee shops, hotel rooms, offices, and domestic spaces that populate his comic books and graphic novels like Palookaville, Clyde Fans, and Dominion City. Given the presence of the television in daily experience at that time as well as in his own life, the television is oversized, looming larger in his imagination. Part of a wider series of work by Seth that engages such spaces, he suggests, “They’re meant to make you think about rooms you’ve been in yourself. Maybe they’re inner rooms representing memory or even an afterlife.”
Bronze and limestone
The Art Gallery of Guelph is grateful for the generous support of Joan and George Todd whose gift through the Florence G. Partridge Fund at the University of Guelph made this commission possible.
Maada’oonidiwag (Coming together) was created by artist KC Adams and features five bronzes cast from clay vessels that rest on a limestone base etched with the intersecting paths of the Speed and Eramosa rivers that shape the landscape of Guelph. For Adams, who is Anishinaabe, Nêhiyaw, and British, the practice of creating clay pottery using the techniques of her ancestors is a means to ensure traditional ways of life and teachings inform the contemporary as well as the future.
As these ancient ceramic vessels are still found intact today secreted along riverbanks and in shards on and in the earth, the sculpture also speaks to how memory is anchored in place, imagining the archaeological traces of Indigenous gathering places and trade networks that still inform landscapes today. Highlighting questions raised in the interplay of experiences, stories, and evidence, the installation also speaks to the importance of seeking the complexities within histories as they are presented.