Public art is much more than a mural or a sculpture in a park, square, or other public setting. In addition to giving artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience, public art invigorates public spaces and helps make communities unique, adding to their character and giving them a stronger sense of place. It can also attract visitors to a specific location and spark their own creativity while encouraging conversations and social interaction. Public art is accessible to all, giving people the chance to experience art outside of a museum, gallery or other cultural institution.
For those who are keen to explore the public art around this province, the’ll want to add Shoe Cove Pond Park in Pouch Cove to their list.
On April 28, the Pouch Cove Public Art Committee officially unveiled “Water Music” by sculptor Don Foulds as the inaugural piece of the Pouch Cove Sculpture Garden. The metal piece, which will be in display for 12 months, is inspired by George Frideric Handel’s “Water Music,” featuring ocean imagery with codfish swimming among music notes, depicted as lines and fish hooks bobbing along a wave-shaped staff. The playful piece invites viewers to engage and move along with it.
A collaborative, community initiative led by the Pouch Cove Public Art Committee (a volunteer group comprised of local artists, community members and representatives from the Town of Pouch Cove), the Pouch Cove Sculpture Garden is a pilot project made possible through funding from Memorial University’s Public Engagement Accelerator Fund.
Po Chun Lau, one of the members of the committee, says some of the inspiration for the project came from the Toronto Sculpture Garden, which, since 1981, has commissioned temporary artworks by more than 80 artists. The temporary nature of the project, she says, is part of the appeal.
“You introduce a new art piece to people…and then because of that, you also provide opportunity for other people, for other artists.”
About two dozen people were on hand for the unveiling and Po says the comments and feedback have been very positive. Additional support for the project came from ArtsNL, and the Town of Pouch Cove also partnered, providing support with site preparation and installation.
Po says the committee will continue the process of applying for funding for the project and in the future, will possibly approach businesses about sponsoring the project and the artworks. The hope is that the Pouch Cove Sculpture Garden will provide an example for other municipalities to emulate.
“I think we need more public art. Most of our public art right now is more to do with monuments and memorials. They have their functions, we need them. But we also need other types of art,” Po says, adding that the sculpture garden at Shoe Cove “is a platform for artists, to give them an opportunity to create work in (a) public space.”
The Pouch Cove Sculpture Garden, says Brian Peach, Chief Administrative Officer with the Town of Pouch Cove, is a perfect example of what can be achieved with a clear vision and a group of people working together to help bring it into view. Speaking personally, he says, “I don’t think there’s anything more important than having a group of people volunteer to contribute something to their community…Especially in small towns, people really don’t recognize the power they have of making things happen if they want to, and working cooperatively with the town to sort of make that happen.”
“I think there’s a lot of value in impressing upon the rest of the community that, hey, if you want to do something, you can do it. And this was an example of (how) these group of artists made this happen.”
Peach says he’s also pleased with the feedback the project has received and he hopes that it inspires others, in more ways than one.
“Public art, I think, is a better version than art locked away – it’s out there for everyone to enjoy. I’m hoping from the town’s perspective, that it inspires people to want to participate in a community project.”