A starfish sits serenely at the bottom of the ocean while the hubbub of ocean life swirls around it. Nearby, the bottom of an iceberg points and calls attention to the significance of this vast, watery world. In another piece, a humpback, seal and puffin penetrate the depths of the sea like newfound explorers. And in another, an aerial view of St. John’s harbour opens up, inviting visitors to discover the landmarks sprinkled across the landscape like items on a treasure map.
These three inspired pieces – “Rich Waters (Sharing the rich waters of the North Atlantic, #1 and #2)” and “Destination: Portrait of St. John’s” – are by local visual artist Vessela Brakalova and greet visitors as they enter the revamped Departures Lounge at St. John’s International Airport. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Brakalova began her art training at the age of 12 and is perhaps today best known for her mosaic pieces. (We will have more on Brakalova’s life and work in a upcoming post.) Her new trio of digital mosaic artworks celebrate our rich natural environment, heritage and culture, while giving visitors a sense of place and inviting them to dive deep and explore further.
The artworks were commissioned with the assistance of Business & Arts NL and were funded by Marco Group – the general contractor for the Airport Terminal Building expansion, Colliers Project Leaders – project managers of the Airport Terminal Building expansion, and John Hearn Architect Inc. – the architect for the existing and expanded Terminal Building. They were officially unveiled last Tuesday during an event hosted by the St. John’s International Airport Authority and Business & Arts NL.
“We’re delighted to have such unique artwork in our newly expanded Departures Lounge. It’s absolutely stunning and encapsulates the beauty of our region while preserving our sense of place,” said Keith Collins, President and CEO of St. John’s International Airport Authority.
“I would also like to recognize the generous financial contributions of our three corporate donors – Marco Group, Colliers Project Leaders and John Hearn Architects – without them, this would not have been possible.”
Joining members of the St. John’s International Airport Authority were members of the Business & Arts NL board of directors, business members, representatives from the City and other invited guests.
“The Airport Authority clearly shares our passion for the magic that happens when business and arts come together. These stunning pieces resonate with the unique beauty of our province, and lend its cultural energy to passengers at the start of their journey. It has been a most rewarding process, and a model for future collaboration,” said Mark Dobbin, Co-Chair of Business & Arts NL.
Ian Sutherland, Business & Arts NL board member and Dean of the School of Music at Memorial University, further emphasized what can be accomplished when the business and arts communities unite, share ideas and dialogue. The St. John’s Airport, where so many of us depart and arrive home, he says, is also the first point of contact for visitors to the province. Therefore, it “must be a place of inspiration.” And there’s no better source of inspiration than the arts.
“Through the arts, we have made a place of belonging, inviting each other and the world into shared practice of expression and creativity,” he said.
“We are delighted today to celebrate the inclusion of the arts in this grand design.”