• By: OLM Staff

Get Up Close to Ottawa City Hall Public Art

Canada’s urban centres are homes to many works of public art. Stand-alone, commemorative or decorative they are a part of what makes a city; an integral part of how we remember or define a cityscape. Many pieces are positioned in places of great prominence while others, uniquely placed, have become part of the beaten paths blending seamlessly into the urban fabrics.

Ottawa is a city well populated with public art and no shortage of places to see these wonderful works. Ottawa’s City Hall is home to eleven public art pieces. Stroll around in what is virtually an outdoor gallery. It is a treat for the senses and only one of many places in the city enjoying many works in one place.

Here are the eleven artists and accompanying descriptions of their pieces:

Carole Sabiston is a British-Canadian artist who lives in British Columbia and twice honoured for her work in Canada. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and was the 1987 winner of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Art. Sabiston’s Rivers Reflecting Seasons is a tapestry in the Keefer Room of the Heritage Building. It is made up of eleven panels each for the former municipalities of the region.

Bruce Garner lives in Plantagenet and was born in Toronto. He is a full time professional sculptor. His prolific body of work is well represented internationally including several pieces throughout Ottawa. Garner’s Outreach is an abstract 5.94-metre-tall, bronze and steel, sculpture depicting the merging of humanity and technology.

Paula Murray is a leading contemporary craft artist. She lives in Chelsea, Quebec. Murray’s Nautilus was inspired by the nautilus shell. It celebrates parallels in nature and society. Observers may enjoy viewing the work from the first floor or at eye level up stairs. Nautilus gives a sense of movement with the playing of light and shadow. The material is translucent porcelain fired in an electric kiln to 1315°C.

Trevor Gould is a South African-Canadian in Canada since 1980. His Fable VII is made up of three parts; a bronze expression in the exterior pool, an interior inscription, and the lion component. The inscription on the window,”Ex Oriente Lux” translates as, out of the east comes light. The other two components present themselves clearly from the window. An added component by local area artist Philip Fry makes this an extended collaborative work as Fry added a landscape garden berry and other bush plants and granite stone.

Warren Carther has a BFA in glass blowing from the California College of Arts and Crafts. Installations of his work can be seen internationally including Japan, Hong Kong, France and the USA. Carther’s Sachi’s Isochron consists of a permanent window installation way up on the southwest rotunda wall, a mystical take on time and date. Dichroic glass affords transformation of a daytime yellow sun image into a night time blue crescent. Marking the dates of the autumnal and vernal equinoxes a red triangular area is illuminated for one hour twice annually. With the assistance an astronomer, mechanics in the back of the glass align with the sun on the equinoxes.

Nickolas D. Semanyk and Jason Grant-Henley are Urban Keios, an artist partnership, established in Ottawa in 1991. The Living Room is the name of their installation. The piece examines the inversion of public versus private space and arts role in that action. Forming a stage for ‘interactive performance’ The Living Room invites and encourages the public to stop, rest and become part of its environment. A very colorful structure, it is magnetic in its overall attractiveness.

Stephen Brathwaite is a local glass artist. He has two pieces of art at Ottawa City Hall. His body of work exists in many public, private, and corporate collections. He has completed works for the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, Canadian Pavilions in Spain and Korea, and Ottawa’s Strathcona Park. Braithwaite’s Structure consists of polished granite and steel. It is the backdrop in the City Council Chambers representing collaboration – possibly the hardest working installation in the building?(sic) – The eleven former municipalities are represented as fragments of varying sizes. They do not fit together as a perfect whole provoking contemplation.

The second piece is called Family Portrait and celebrates the ‘regional family’. Diversity, contribution, and eccentricity are all present in 28 cast faces of individuals from the region.

David Ruben Piqtoukun is from Paulatuk, Northwest Territories and an acclaimed Inuit stone artist. David continues to identify and learn about his culture through his carving. The Lost Child represents overcoming feelings of alienation in an urbanized world. The piece’s largest boulder, weighs 27 000 kilograms and is 5.8 metres tall. It is the work’s watch-guard. In the tradition of a cairn The Lost Child gives point of reference, respite and contemplation.

Michael Bussière is an accomplished Ottawa based musician, composer, and producer. V.I.P. (Virtual Instrument Paradigm) is on Ottawa City Hall’s Festival Plaza. It is a playground for the senses. Computerized, it ‘sees’ physical space as an ensemble. It is an element of surprise and full on participatory experience. It makes it’s own music and will ‘make’ music and sound ‘inspired’ by another’s presence. Five concrete towers are designed and constructed by Mark West. V.I.P. (Virtual Instrument Paradigm) animates itself and everything around it, the design entices you in to become part of it all.

Jim Thomson is an Ottawa ceramic artist. His work is internationally recognized and acknowledged. He has taught at Algonquin College, Ottawa Board of Education, Ottawa School of Art, and The Banff Centre. Thomson’s On Top of the World is ceramic sculpture in three parts. The turtle, dog, and spiral together convey a celebratory environment. Myth and paradox, history and experience come together symbolizing a timeless embracing world.

Outstanding artists, wonderful installations representing Ottawan spirit and humanity; playful, interactive, thought provoking and there for you. Make a point to see these works. Get up close to them and experience art in public.