While it may be gone, the iconic Blue Bridge in Victoria stands as the inspiration behind an Oak Bay artists installation that starts Saturday.
The Iconic Blue series comprises contemporary drawings, painting and collage work reflecting the space and atmosphere of Victoria’s Blue Bridge more formally known as the Johnson Street Bridge.
The series seed was planted in 2012 as Jane Coombe studied the concepts of space and atmosphere at the Vancouver Island School of Art.
“Part of it was to go out in the community and walk around and get a feeling for places,” said Coombe, who found herself crossing the bridge. “The sun was shining and the light just shone like a cathedral though all of the girders up high.”
She embarked on a mission the capture the magnificence of the design, spatial construction, ingenuity of the architectural engineering and the feeling of civic pride when the Blue Bridge opened in 1924 at a cost of $918,000). The costs of the Blue Bridge replacement, from its initial estimate of $48 million in 2009 to final costs in 2018 of 148 million are reflected in large blue canvases.
“Early in this work I experienced immense feelings of sadness at the loss of a significant and iconic landmark and recall memories of crossing similar bridges in the industrial north east of England, my place of birth,” Coombe said. “I felt nostalgic for home. The controversy over the bridge replacement only deepened my sadness and became a catalyst for the series.”
Coombe took a sensory approach noting emotional responses to sight, touch, smell, sound and attacked all elements.
“I listened to the rhythm of traffic going over the bridge and recorded how these sounds look on canvas,” she said. “I’ve studied a lot of obstruct construction so the idea of drawing all of those angles and intersecting lines appealed to me and it was a challenge.”
Iconic Blue, 1924- 2018 opens June 30 with a reception 2 to 5 p.m. at the Stairwell Gallery, St. Philip Anglican Church, 2928 Eastdowne Rd.
Curator Cornelia van Voorst, “she’s trying to create a space where artists who have sort of spiritual connection, and a lot do, to their art, can show,” Coombe said. “I’m very happy, the work looks very good. I’m not a well known artist so this little gallery is perfect.”
The exhibition continues to Aug. 25 and is open to the public weekday mornings when the church is staffed. Call 778-440-8170 for an appointment. Learn more about the artist at janecoombe.com.