“The work itself is like a community, a bunch of individuals who make a community— who once connected become something, create something.” - Michael Belmore
Severe spring flooding in Northern Manitoba has brought many challenges to the town of Churchill, but for one internationally renowned artist, the heavy waters mirror the themes of his most recent art piece.
Michael Belmore is an Indigenous artist who recently unveiled a visionary installation called Coalescence in front of the Parks Canada Visitor Centre in Churchill. Inspired by the interconnection of land and water, Belmore conceived Coalescence as a modern reflection of the effects of ancient glacial movements through Central and Western Canada.
To represent the message of movement and connection, the piece was intended to be divided up with portions migrating south to Riding Mountain National Park, The Forks National Historic Site, and Grasslands National Park. Each site would become the permanent location for one of four segmented portions of the finished sculpture. The final segment would remain in Churchill as a permanent fixture on the eastern shore of the Churchill River at Cape Merry Battery, part of Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site. Ironically heavy spring flooding in Northern Manitoba have meant the exhibit is unable to make the summer migration as originally planned, and the movement and installation of Coalescence will be delayed by roughly a year. Although this is a significant change from the original plan, it speaks to the intimate connection water and land hold, deepening the message of Belmore’s work.
This is only one of a series of Landmarks 2017 initiatives which consist of contemporary art pieces that are being installed in Parks Canada’s national parks and national historic sites across the country. The 11 curated exhibits aim to inspire the public to explore and deepen their connection to the land while also creating opportunity for thoughtful discussion.
Belmore’s distinctive exhibit, curated by Natalia Lebedinskaia of the Art Gallery of Western Manitoba, made its public debut on June 10, 2017 as part of this esteemed Canada 150 Signature Initiative.
To create the piece, Belmore carved and carefully positioned 16 large stones, hand selected from the surrounding Churchill landscape, to create a permanent representation of the temporary foam of lapping waves. The precisely placed stones were then inlaid with copper leaf giving the illusion of radiating heat. Over time, the stones will settle into place, and the copper will green and slowly fade to black.
For more information, visit Landmarks 2017.