Rebirth greets guests as they enter Oak Bay thanks to a one-time provincial grant.
“When it went up last year as a temporary art installation I had a lot of comments from businesses and residents that they liked it,” said Barbara Adams, Oak Bay arts laureate.
“It fits that garden. It has good presence, it lights up nicely and it’s welcoming.”
Rebirth, by David Hunwick, looks like a pair of whale bones in the shape of a heart, and was part of the summer arts program in 2015. Due to the popularity, the artist agreed to extend the loan, leaving the work in Entrance Park at Foul Bay Road and Oak Bay Avenue for another year.
“However I didn’t have funding or even a thought of funding,” Adams said. “We were very pleased to qualify for the one-time grant.”
She successfully applied to Comox Valley MLA Don McRae and received $10,000.
“This whale bone sculpture is a beautiful piece of art, admired by locals and visitors alike,” said McRae. “It was great to be able to provide a special grant to help enable its purchase by Oak Bay, and support our vibrant local arts community.”
The goal of the public art program is to install temporary art works while seeking funds to make permanent purchases and Adams and the Public Art Committee identified Rebirth as the next preferred piece to purchase.
Including the MLA influx, the $35,000 in the public art fund could cover the expected $17,250 cost that includes purchase and engineering a permanent installation.
“We believe public art is important. It’s free, it’s open to everyone, you don’t have to get dressed up and it has economic benefits for our community,” said Coun. Tara Ney, acting mayor during the meeting council officially approved the purchase.
“We recognize that public art is completely subjective – the pieces get people talking about what they like and don’t like.”
Rebirth is another step toward “making Oak Bay the art capital of the Capital,” says the mayor.
“It’s a great location for a welcoming piece of art,” said Nils Jensen.
“The acquisition is really in keeping with council’s vision to make Oak Bay more arty. We hope to acquire one piece of public art every year going forward. That certainly will add to the interest of our surroundings.”
This is the second public art piece acquired for Oak Bay’s public art collection. The first was the Salish Sea at Turkey Head.
“The next Oak Bay arts collection acquisition will be determined from a community vote – we will begin to see how public art expresses our sense of place and who we are,” said Ney. “The arts laureate is building a program to have self-funded public art program.”
The public can vote on potential future purchases during this year’s ArtsAlive program featuring 13 sculptures – including another Hunwick piece – around Oak Bay.
Learn more about the public art fund and ArtsAlive at oakbay.ca.