Art can be beautiful, inspiring, thought-provoking and emotion-stirring. And sometimes, great art can also solve a problem.
When the brewery was seeking a permanent docking gate for their operations, they decided to go the creative route. Vessela got busy creating a piece that’s functional and aesthetically pleasing, working bottlenecks from the brewery’s famous Iceberg beer into the design. The resulting “Iceberg in a Bottle” is one of five pieces of public art that’s part of the Quidi Vidi Art Search. (Learn more about Vessela and “Iceberg in a Bottle”.)
“I’ve worked with Business & Arts NL outside of Quidi Vidi Brewery before so I was very familiar with what they do. This project was a natural fit for us,” says Justin Fong, Sales and Marketing Director at Quidi Vidi Brewery.
“Vessela’s work is spectacular and a great addition to our brewery and taproom. It’s currently mounted in our parking lot but will become our functional gate in the future!”
Perhaps most well known as a mosaic artist, Vessela’s work can also be seen at the St. John’s International Airport. (Read our previous Spotlight about this partnership.) Currently, the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s is hosting Brakalova’s first solo exhibit “Prevailing Light,” consisting of new multi-media works, until October 30 (with an artist talk and walking tour of the exhibition to take place on October 14).
We caught up with Vessela recently to take a closer look at “Iceberg in a Bottle.”
Business & Arts NL: This is such a cool and creative way for Quidi Vidi Brewery to implement their docking gate. How did the idea for your piece “Iceberg in a Bottle” come to you? And can you walk us through your creative process a bit?
Vessela Brakalova: It was a no-brainer: Quidi Vidi Brewery is best known for its iconic Iceberg beer delivered in a unique blue bottle. It says it literally in the name. I saw the iceberg image as a bold, beautiful form representing Quidi Vidi’s best known beer and our province simultaneously. From there, the creative road was easy, and I got to work on bringing my vision to life.
Business & Arts NL: Did you and the brewery collaborate much on ideas and implementation while you were working on the piece? Or did you have free rein?
VB: Quidi Vidi’s owner, Justin Fong, and the manager, Joe Bowers, were a delight to work with. They were smitten with the concept and let me execute the idea to completion without interference. The only challenge, the gate’s size and weight, was addressed with a creative approach—using a perforated aluminum sheet as a surface for the work. This way, the result was still a large panel with holes allowing the wind to pass through.
Business & Arts NL: “Iceberg in a Bottle” is a bit of a departure from some of your previous works, as you are perhaps best known for your beautiful mosaic pieces. Did you encounter any particular challenges while you were working on this piece? What was the most rewarding part for you?
VB: Most people know me as “The Airport Artist” and my glass mosaic-like work. However, I also have 30 years of successful experience in graphic and interpretive design through my business, Vis-à-Vis Graphics. For this particular project, I had to wear both hats to find a creative solution.
I must also praise my collaborator and fabricator Greg Leaman (Leaman Signs), whose production experience was instrumental in making this project possible.
The gate had to be functional for the busy docking station, so we had to address the challenge of the significant weight and size of the installation. To solve this problem, we had to embed the post holding the gate deeply in the ground, which was left to the engineers to figure out. Currently, “Iceberg in a Bottle” is temporarily attached to the fence leading to the taproom.
The most rewarding part of this project was the opportunity to combine my two most prominent skills—design and art. I achieved this by using an industrial-grade perforated aluminum design solution, which I combined with my mastery of cutting glass. I believe that the purpose of successful art-design is not only to be beautiful but, most importantly, to solve a problem.
With “Iceberg in a Bottle,” I hope I have achieved both.
Business & Arts NL: You’ve incorporated Iceberg beer bottles into your design. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Vessela Brakalova: Working with glass is my passion! It is one of the oldest man-made composites and still one of our most essential commodities: a cost-effective way to package beer, improve your vision, or send data at the speed of light. A time-tested material for an artist whose European training builds on techniques that go back millennia.
I’m happy to report that more of my creative glass-construction collages are being displayed at Christina Parker Gallery. My first solo exhibit, “Prevailing Light,” features works completed over the last three years and opened on September 29, 2023.
Come and see what drives my creative process!
Stay tuned to our Spotlight on Partnerships blog as we highlight other Quidi Vidi Art Search artists and community partners in the months to come! (Read our previous posts on artists Robert Hengeveld, Ian Gillies and Marc Fiset, and Julie Lewis.)