Vitality & State of Nature (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

Exploring the art around Century Gardens and Deer Lake Park

There is so much history behind all of these pieces of art

By Marco Ovies | June 16, 2022 |5:00 am

It’s so easy to walk through Century Gardens and Deer Lake Park and completely miss some of the art installations there. You might not even know that there were any art installations there to begin with. Here, we’ll be covering three of the different pieces of art around Century Gardens and Deer Lake Park and their history.

Burnaby Millenium Sculpture Poles

art around Century Gardens
Burnaby Millenium Sculpture Poles. (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

The City of Burnaby introduced the Community Clay Sculpture Project as a lasting legacy to celebrate the millennium in 2001. Local ceramic artists Keith Rice-Jones and his wife Celia Rice-Jones oversaw the construction of three structural poles, each representing Burnaby’s past, present, and future. The images you can see on each of these poles were created by Burnaby residents of various expertise and ages, and each added their own personal flair to their contributions.

art around Century Gardens
Burnaby Millenium Sculpture Poles. (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

While the three poles built of raw clay flue liners are interesting to look at as a whole from afar, it’s more interesting to stand close and examine each individual picture on all four sides of the poles. Each picture is so different and shows the values and ideas past Burnaby citizens had.

Vitality & State of Nature

art around Century Gardens
Vitality and State of Nature. (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

Vitality and State of Nature was created back in 2006 as a project to add public art to different municipalities before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. Coast Salish sculptor Thomas Cannel was tasked with creating a piece of art that is representative of Burnaby’s past, and he ended up making two pieces of art: Vitality and State of Nature.

Vitality is four basal sculptures that convey “the circle of life through traditional Coast Salish imagery” and show carvings of a traditional Coast Salish family. The second piece—State of Nature—are iron grates over drainage areas all across Deer Lake Park. Each one has “abstract butterflies, deer, fish, birds, and flora.”

In an interview with the City of Burnaby, Cannel said, “After the initial visit to Deer Lake Park with my own family, I was thrilled by all of the families there at dance classes and playing on the rolling hills. This has been directly incorporated into by design, through the rolling landscape and the energy flowing through the artwork.”

Untitled Blocks

art around Century Gardens
Untitled blocks (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

Created by German artist Bodo Pfeifer, this sculpture called “untitled blocks”  was built back in 1972 and was later restored in 2018. As the name suggests, these yellow blocks with a mirrored top are open to all sorts of interpretation and have no official meaning. Perhaps the tops are representative of the sun on the surface of Deer Lake’s water? Or the yellow cubes could represent the dandelions in the field? Maybe it could be something else entirely.

art around Century Gardens
untitled ulocks (Marco Ovies / Burnaby Beacon)

Pfeifer’s blocks were initially intended for a Vancouver park. However, the Vancouver park board rejected it and he eventually reached out to Lloyd Berry, the former fine arts supervisor for the Burnaby Arts Centre. Not only were these blocks approved but the City of Burnaby approved a sculpture garden as well. However, that has since long been gone and only these untitled blocks remain.

Marco Ovies

Marco Ovies is Burnaby Beacon's Lifestyle Reporter Creator focusing on all things food, events, and fun things happening in the city.

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