Large slabs of granite laid across Long Wharf in Saint John, N.B., will be transformed into sculptures over the coming weeks and transported to new homes throughout the province.
Artists, residents, organizers and dignitaries gathered along the Saint John Harbour Thursday morning to mark the start of the fifth and final edition of the New Brunswick International Sculpture Symposium.
“Not only was it a great cultural event that was happening on our waterfront, but it was also many people’s first encounter with public art,” said Trevor Holder, the MLA for Portland-Simonds.
On behalf of the provincial tourism, heritage and culture minister, Holder announced $9,000 for a legacy project to document the decade of work.
Commonly known as the Sculpture Saint John Symposium, the event has led to the creation of 30 sculptures across Southeastern New Brunswick created by artists from around the world.
Over the next month, sculptures will be created for sites in Deer Island, Oromocto, Dieppe, Moncton and of course Saint John. A decorated roster of artists includes Jim Boyd and Phil Savage of New Brunswick, Wiktor Kopacz of Poland, Pauls Jaunzems from Latvia, and Zdravko Zdravkov from Bulgaria.
Montreal sculptor Josee Leroux arrived last-minute as a substitute after travel turbulence forced several artists to cancel.
“It’s been a challenge because the visa process was delayed this year, there’s just so many things going on around the world, flights were delayed. We put in collectively over 80 hours on the phone trying to get our artists here,” said Diana Alexander, executive director for Sculpture Saint John.
While many artists are participating in the symposium for the first time, local sculptor Jim Boyd has seen the development of the event, having taken part in it every time.
“I’ve met a lot of international artists, and interns as well, so I made some great connections and learned a lot over the years – like new techniques,” Boyd said.
Boyd’s work is already a staple in Saint John and the surrounding communities, but this year he will create the first piece for Deer Island, N.B. When asked about the vision for the piece, Boyd said he often incorporates the community’s background, as well as his own memories.
“I kind of want to make almost like a stylized sail, but it’s going to have more texture, and kind of inspired by seashells and organic shapes,” he said.
While the symposium will not continue in Saint John past 2022, Alexander noted another community could be willing to carry the torch.
“That doesn’t mean that the New Brunswick International Sculpture Symposium is going to stop. You never know when it might be moving to another city in New Brunswick.”
Given the requirements to host a symposium, she said hosting can be daunting, however.
Workshops and on-site demonstrations are scheduled for the coming weeks before a closing ceremony is held on Sept. 10.