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Upside-down Kelowna public art piece a metaphor for health-care system, says art studio

Titled ‘Flower,’ the 13-foot tall and 600-pound structure was installed this week in front of the Interior Health building in Kelowna. Global News

A new piece of public art, one that shines a metaphorical spotlight on health-care professionals, has been installed in downtown Kelowna.

Titled ‘Flower,’ the 13-foot-tall, 600-pound piece is located at the intersection of Doyle and Ellis streets, in front of the Interior Health building.

With its roots at the top and the bloom at the bottom, ‘Flower’ is a representation of a Mariposa Lily, an Indigenous flower of the Okanagan.

A close-up of the bloom of the art piece ‘Flower.’. Global News

In a YouTube video, the co-founder of Toronto-based Studio F Minus, which created the art piece, also said ‘Flower’ is also a metaphor for a holistic approach to health care, “and also a representation and celebration of people who provide that care.”

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“The flower came about because it’s a fairly universal symbol of good health,” Mitchell F. Chan said of the piece created from aluminum. “We’re used to sending someone flowers to wish them to get well soon.

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“But when we start to think about the flower, we wanted to acknowledge that it’s actually the root structure underground that makes that bloom possible.

“And for us, this was a metaphor for how the health-care system works. All this is possible because of this complicated network that often remains unseen.”

Chan said by placing the roots at the top, instead of the bottom, “this is how we celebrate the doctors, the nurses and the health-care professionals who make all of this possible, by giving them their moment in the sun, so to speak, through this sculpture.”

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An associated artist with Studio F Minus, Michael M. Simon, said creating ‘Flower’ required hundreds of pieces.

“The last six months have been a very intensive metal-working project of piecing the hundreds of components that went into making this thing,” said Simon.

“Everything, from building the interior skeleton to cladding it to manually bending the edging that goes around the entire stem and bloom, to finishing the over 100 layers that go on top to give it that very paint-by-numbers look.”

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According to the city, the upside-down artwork was a collaboration between the City of Kelowna, Interior Health and a funding partner, BentallGreenOak.

It’s unknown how much the art piece cost.

In a press release, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran called Flower a great piece to the city’s public art collection.

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“Flower is a piece for our time,” said Basran. “Animating our public spaces has never felt more important.

“Not only does it add vibrancy and character to the downtown, it serves as a symbol for both our healthcare workers and anyone accessing services at Interior Health during these challenging times.”