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Commissioned by the City of Nelson, BC, Canada: September, 2011.

Completed: August, 2012.

The City of Nelson is the major centre of the West Kootenays, the region in which I reside.  It is a small city in the interior of British Columbia with a progressive cultural mandate thanks to the vision and persistence of its Cultural Development Commission. In August 2011 there was a call for artists to create artistic infills for the two railings of the newly constructed Cottonwood Creek Bridge, which connects vehicles and pedestrians to the downtown area designated as Railtown--- the future Regional Visitor Gateway  located in the CP Rail Station House (currently under restoration).    

Not surprisingly, my preliminary design work focused on the significance of the railway and the strong heritage theme of Nelsonís downtown core; however, upon visiting the project location, a theme was revealed when a young lad rolled by on his skateboard and I envisioned, chronologically, a sampling of what may have crossed the creek over the last century. The design that followed was a meandering multi-layered assemblage constructed from the wheels and cogs of that which has made the crossing.

Considering the specs of the project (30 unique panels spanning 135 feet), the functional requirements of the railing on the sidewalk side, and the weight restrictions; the production design was not without its challenges. After a couple of false starts and two months lost to a serious hand injury, I settled into 7 months of rigorous studio work/installation.  It was important for me to use reclaimed materials from within the region, which was limiting; however, it opened up some materials that I had long over-looked, in particular, brake parts.  The bulk of the sculptural core consists of cross-sections of 300+ cast-iron automobile brake rotors/drums, each filled out with bicycle sprockets, mountain bike rotors and the measurement gears from petrol pumps.  These, assembled side by side, meandering the middle rail, resulted in the required flush surface for the side-walk side of the railing.  The creek side (back-side) of the railing reveals the three-dimensional perspective of the sculpture, in which a variety of mixed metals (horse related, mining/forestry/agricultural components, auto/motorcycle/snowmobile parts, bicycle/skateboard, etc.) lap the front pieces--- all bolted and riveted together.  The remainder of each panel is filled out in sheets of perforated metal.  All is lightly spray-coated which will gradually give way to a natural oxide finish.      



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