District says thanks in oak and steel

Resident donates six sculptures to be used as special recognition

Oak leaf sculpture in stainless steel by artist Illarion Gallant.

Oak leaf sculpture in stainless steel by artist Illarion Gallant.

From the vision and generosity of one man and the artistic talents of another, Oak Bay has a brand new way to say “thank you.”

Inspired by a gift arranged for Oak Bay Volunteer Services’ executive director Joan Halvorsen, Oak Bay’s Bob Carter approached the municipality about creating a special gift as a thank you when the occasion warrants.

“They hadn’t had anything that was distinctive to represent the community,” Carter says. “I volunteered that if they liked (the idea), I would donate the first six.”

A longtime friend of Saanich artist Illarion Gallant, whose sculptures include those at the Victoria International Airport, Bastion Square and the Oak Bay Sculpture Walk, Carter approached Oak Bay with the idea of a stainless steel oak leaf design that could be engraved with a message for the recipient.

Consultation with district arborists ensured the right oak design was used and the result is a beautiful stainless steel creation, about 10 inches long in a slightly cupped shape. Carter has the prototype used to create the very first piece for Halvorsen, as well as a distinctive curved piece of steel the leaves were cut from – a piece of art in its own right, says Carter, whose home displays a passion for the arts.

The concept and the donation were very much appreciated, says Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“The community and council appreciate the kind and generous donation of Bob Carter. Not only did he have the artistic vision but he had the kindness to donate six of these and we are very grateful,” Jensen says.

The leaves arrived just in time for the first to be presented to longtime staffer Loranne Hilton, who recently left Oak Bay to become CAO at the District of Highlands.

“It is a stunning work of art that is so connected to Oak Bay,” Jensen says.

“It was fitting for Loranne as a way for her to remember her time and us to honour her.”