This magnificent piece of art is located in Little Norway Park and has an extraordinary story behind it’s creation. In celebration of the work, the Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association and some of the artists involved with its creation are holding an event in the park this Wednesday June 3rd at 6:45 p.m. From the media advisory:
The Dreamwork of the Whales was conceived and produced by the Ne Chi Zu Works, a group of Toronto-born artists living in Vancouver. The first creative seed was planted in late 1979 when two of the artists were back home in Toronto and visited the new Harbourfront Contemporary Art Gallery. While viewing the exhibit, they were overheard commenting about the quality of the art on display by an American artist: “We’ve got better Canadian artists than this, why aren’t they showing some of their stuff?” The gallery manager struck up a conversation, and before long the two artists left with a cheque for the seed money to get the project started!
The group retained artist Georganna Malloff to create the conceptual design. Five months of organizing and fundraising followed before a 700-year-old tree was chosen on a forestry site near Squamish, British Columbia. The artists were members of Ne Chi Zu Works, a group of Toronto-born artists living in Vancouver (the group’s name comes from a Nootka phrase meaning, “To see yourself through the eyes of another.”) Among the earliest donors was the logging camp that donated the tree and the City of Vancouver, which was persuaded to provide a grant for a work of art destined for downtown Toronto! The log travelled on a flatbed by train to Toronto and found what was expected to be a temporary home in the open expanse of green at the foot of Bathurst Street in the spring of 1980. In-kind donors ranged from Kodak (supplying film to document the process), to a concrete manufacturer located nearby, a crane company that assisted in raising the finished work, and Esso which donated a specialty oil used to coat the sculpture. The City of Toronto assisted with a grant and permitted the site to be used by the sculptors for the 5-month span of actual carving work.
Starting in late spring 1980, the cedar was transformed by the talented hands of principal designer/sculptors Ben Barclay, Julian Bowron, Lynn Daly, Daniel Gauvin and Earl Thomlinson. Staying in a home donated by friends, the artists donated over 4 months of their time, aided by Georganna and several guest carvers, to shape the carving, which was raised by hand with 300 volunteers on Oct 13th, 1981.
Photos by Shaun Merritt