By Zoey Gray, GNH Community Journalist/Blogger
Visitors to Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) may have noticed a recent addition to its interior – large, colourful, and intricate, a new sculptural installation now hangs beneath the skylights of GNH. This addition to the space was proposed by GNH Executive Director Paul M. Taylor, and was brought to life this past winter by students and faculty from UBC’s Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.
A wooden art installation hanging in Impact Hub Ottawa was what inspired Paul Taylor to bring some sculptural art into the neighbourhood house. Moved by this wooden installation, Taylor soon partnered with UBC, where his idea was met with great enthusiasm from the university’s Visual Arts Department.
UBC’s Visual Art 401D students, led by professor Richard Prince and instructor/coordinator Christine d’Onofrio, worked diligently to bring the project to completion within a matter of months. Although they worked under the mentorship of their two instructors, Prince credits nearly all the hard work to his students. Within the time constraints of their semester, Prince says his 22 students worked together to design and complete the entire installation, titled “One Thousand Kinds of Wind.”
“It became a really important class for the students, because all of a sudden they weren’t just working in theory, or working for themselves, they were working for a public project,” explains Prince.
With this goal in mind, the class brought a multitude of their own ideas together and tailored their design to suit GNH. The leaf-like shapes within the installation, says student Ariel Kaplen, were inspired by the leaves within the GNH logo, while the variety of colours was intended to cultivate a welcoming space for GNH’s wide age demographic. The colour choices, adds Kaplen, were carefully chosen by the students in order to have them complement the space. With the installation set under a skylight, she explains, the students had to consider how the sunlight would interact with the piece.
“We wanted to have that sort of visibility where if the light was going through [the installation] at a certain time of day, it would go through the translucent pieces and cast the colour upon the walls,” adds Sara Sampson, another student who worked on the project. Indeed, at the right time of day, visitors will be lucky enough to witness the sculpture splash the walls with different colours.
The piece was installed soon after its completion, thanks to Ben Bakk, Warren Bakk, and Doug Sissons of Vision Pacific Construction. Future plans for the space include renovations designed by international design and architecture firm Perkins+Will in late 2016, and will consist of newly painted walls as well as interior lighting, both of which will complement the installation.
And the new installation has already sparked a buzz amidst the neighbourhood community. Enlivening a once empty space, “One Thousand Kinds of Wind” has made visitors look up, pause, and appreciate the installation, striking them with a feeling much like that which was felt by Paul M. Taylor many months ago in Impact Hub Ottawa.
“It’s so wonderful to see members of our community so proud of their neighbourhood house,” says Paul Taylor, “because it’s a place with a really beautiful, engaging art piece. I think it’s pretty special and will be here for years to come.”
One Thousand Kinds of Wind (December 2015)
Professor: Richard Prince
Instructor/Coordinator: Christine d’Onofrio
Paul M. Taylor, Gordon Neighbourhood House