Ancaster Fieldcote Walkway Public Art Project

The City of Hamilton is currently undertaking a public art process to select a work or works of art to be installed along the new Fieldcote Walkway that connects Wilson Street in downtown Ancaster to Fieldcote Memorial Park.

Project award

The volunteer citizen jury has selected the work "Landmark" by Simon Frank as the winning proposal.

Background

This report is a brief overview of the discussion and decision of the volunteer citizen jury which met at Fieldcote Museum on Tuesday April 14, 2015 to review the five short-listed artist proposals, discuss public feedback on those proposals, and arrive at a final recommendation for a winner. They reviewed and derived scores for each proposal in the categories of Artistic Merit and Response to Competition Goals. They added those to Technical Merit scores recommended by City staff, and after a long discussion, came to a consensus.

According to the original call, these were the competition goals and themes:

The goal of this public art project is to enhance the 200 metre long walkway that connects Wilson Street in downtown Ancaster to Fieldcote Memorial Park. The successful work will create a visual, physical or conceptual connection from the street to the forest (and vice versa), invite use of the walkway, and be respectful of the heritage character of the Wilson Street streetscape.

The successful work should also address one or more of the following themes:

  • The natural character of the area
  • The history of Ancaster Village; Aboriginal, pioneer, water powered mills and/or underground railway

Award

After a very intense and heartfelt debate, the jury eventually narrowed their focus between Simon Frank and Sandor Monos’ proposals, advocating passionately for both. Simon Frank’s higher public approval and contemporary approach allowed him to edge past Monos in the scoring. The award has therefore been given to Simon Frank.

Jury comments

The Fieldcote Jury was pleased by both the wide spectrum of works offered by all contributors, particularly the five short-listed artists, spanning conceptual to representative approaches and utilizing such materials as locally gathered stone, cast bronze, laser cut aluminum, and steel, among others. It made the selection process difficult insofar as the Jury felt that each proposal had potential to succeed as a public art piece, and several had successfully navigated the tricky demands of the Fieldcote site. The Jury wishes to congratulate each of the five finalists on their efforts.

Simon Frank
The jury felt that Frank had a conceptually strong proposal that is accessible, contemporary, and poetic. They felt that approving a work with a prominent text component that has yet to be finalized was a risk; however, given the Frank’s prior work, the fact that the text would be more poetic than didactic, and that the city would have some approval over text, mitigated this risk sufficiently. The Jury strongly recommended that Frank adjust his budget to allow the sculpture’s width to increase from 3 inches to 6 inches.

Sandor Monos
The Jury felt passionately about Monos’ proposal, and have great faith in his abilities as a figurative sculpture. They particularly responded to the idea that a figurative bronze being nestled in a wooded area would be an unexpected surprise to visitors. They thought the scale of the work , and the intimacy of the figure would have been a nice enticement to children and adults to slow down and investigate the naturally setting. They agreed also that Tom Farmer was a worthy icon for this site. One slight drawback to the proposal was the fact that Ancaster already showcases more traditional, figurative sculptures. It was also noted that a future work closer to the museum building may be more appropriate to honour the Farmer family bequest of Fieldcote.

Heather Vollans
The Jury was impressed by the expertise of Vollans as a mosaic maker and commended her use of indigenous stones into her design, as well as her overall capacity to render this project to a high and durable standard. They felt that the frames holding the mosaics presented some challenges insofar as they behaved very much like conventional signage, and were accessible only from one side.

Patrick Bermingham
The Jury was quite intrigued by the Bermingham’s research and overall concept. However, they felt that there were possibly too many components to this project, some behaving less like public art and more like historical didactic. They felt that not only would such a project likely exceed the allocated budget, but was too complex and multifaceted to be understood as a single project.

Michaela McLeod
The Jury was very excited at McLeod’s contemporary and inventive approach to competition goals, and felt she had devised a unique way for people to engage with Ancaster’s topography. The biggest concern was that a project of such size and breadth deserves a context with better sight lines; that the appeal of such a design would be limited due to the constricted nature of the path along which it would be installed.

The jury

  • Arthur Greenblatt - Resident and Past Director, Dundas Valley School of Art
  • Susan Outlaw - Visual Artist
  • Alan Bowler - Resident and Landscape Architect
  • Nell Farmer-Spicer - Descendant of Fieldcote Family Bequest
  • Steve Swing - Chair, Ancaster Community Council
  • Karen Wilkins - Ancaster Village B.I.A.
  • Tony Vieira - Arts Advisory Commission

Concept statement

I am proposing to create and install a new bronze sculpture entitled Landmark, on the Fieldcote walkway. Landmark will be comprised of a large tree section, or tree “slice”, installed in an upright position at the intersection of the two paths; sited on the north side of the trail, facing along the walkway towards Wilson Street. The sculpture will be approximately 42” tall and 3” thick, and will be bronze-cast directly from an actual tree section. This will allow the artwork to retain all of the natural texture and character of the wood - making it look similar to the many cut logs lying nearby at the site.

Landmark will also have a text element, raised in relief on both of the “cut” surfaces of the sculpture. This text will run in a circular pattern, like the concentric growth rings of a tree, and will be different on each side of the sculpture. On the side that faces Wilson Street, the rings of text will refer directly to the human history of Ancaster, including text related to the settlement and development of the area, as well as Doris Fieldcote’s bequest of the property to the community. On the other side of the sculpture, facing the woodlot at Fieldcote, the rings of text will address the natural heritage of the site; including a list of the Carolinian plants and animals in the region, and a geological history of the Niagara Escarpment and “Dundas Valley”. The text element gives Landmark an important educational or ‘interpretive’ aspect, one where a sense of place is embodied in the actual form of the sculpture. It also directly engages the public, revealing greater levels of meaning and relevancy as people approach the artwork, touch it, realize the symbolic nature of its construction, and read the words.

Landmark is a public artwork that takes its inspiration from the natural setting, and makes authentic connections between the human and natural histories of the site. By its very design, it belongs to its setting, and it will provide people who encounter it while using the walkway and trail loop, with both a heightened sense of place and a thought provoking experience. By doing these things, I believe Landmark will become an important permanent addition to the site.

Public consultation results

306 people provided their preferred selection as follows:

  • 12% for A Forest for All Times, Heather Vollans
  • 24% for Contour Corridor, Michaela MacLeod
  • 11% for A Walk in Time, Patrick Bermingham
  • 20% for Tom, Sandor Monos
  • 32% for LANDMARK, Simon Frank
  • 1% for None

Review the Public Consultation Comments (PDF, 267 KB)

Call for artists

The Call for Artists for this project closed Thursday August 7, 2014. 11 proposals were submitted. The jury has met and Stage 2 proposals have been selected. Thank you to all of the artists that made a submission.

Reports

A focus group was held on September 16, 2014 at Fieldcote Memorial Museum and Park to determine goals and themes that artists will be asked to address in their submissions to the competition.

Monday September 16, 2014 at 7 pm
Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum, 64 Sulphur Springs Road, Ancaster

Attendees

  • Alan Bowler - Adjacent Property Owner, Landscape Architect
  • Nell Farmer-Spicer - Fieldcote Bequest
  • Dan Faulkner - Ancaster BIA, Creations Gallery
  • Mariana Fensham - thinkGiraffe Design Studio 
  • Jim Green - Ancaster Historian, Fieldcote Volunteer
  • Arthur Greenblatt - Executive Director, Dundas Valley School of Art, Resident
  • Leah Higens - Executive Director Ancaster BIA
  • Colin Morris - Fieldcote Volunteer Committee
  • Susan Outlaw - Local Artist 
  • Steve Swing - Ancaster Community Council 
  • Karen Wilkins - Ancaster BIA, Aesthetic Committee
  • Rob Wilkins - Chairman of the Ancaster BIA, Adjacent Property Owner/Donor 
  • Bob Wilt - Ancaster Horticultural Society 
  • Lois Corey - Site Supervisor, Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum
  • Dave Turner - Supervisor, Heritage Facilities
  • Therese Charbonneau - Conservator, Tourism and Culture
  • Jennifer Kaye - Manager, Arts, Events and Grants 
  • Ken Coit - Art in Public Places Coordinator (Facilitator)

Purpose

To determine appropriate goals and/or themes for the public art competition and to identify any community issues or concerns. 

Background

Ken Coit gave a presentation outlining the Public Art process, the breakdown of the project budget of $50,000 and reviewed the site to be considered for public art. He also provided examples of different types of Public Art and an overview of the typical costs of public art projects in relation to size and materials. Bob Wilkins, who donated the easement to the City for the new walkway, indicated how important the new link is in connecting Fieldcote Memorial Park and Ancaster Heritage Village to the wider City trail system and in helping to fulfil the BIA’s vision to be a “Complete…..Walkable” community.

Site

It was agreed that the site for the installation in addition to the new walkway should include the area of the Fieldcote woods from the north end of the new walkway to the intersection of the existing loop path in the woods. This will give artists the opportunity to mark the intersection of the two paths.

It was noted that this area has no lighting and it was not within the budget of this project to provide power to the area for lighting. It was also noted that the path is not maintained in winter. Any art work proposed for this area will therefore have to be vandalism resistant.

Type of public art

The type of art proposed is to be left open as much as possible to the artists making submissions. The art work could be mounted on the fence, could be free standing beside the walkway or be set flush into the path. It could be a single work or a series of works.

Qualities and characteristics of the area

All members of the focus group were asked to address the following question:

What are the important qualities and characteristics of Ancaster Heritage Village and Fieldcote that artists submitting to the competition should address? 

The following answers were provided as part of the general discussion:

  • Respect the heritage character of Ancaster Village – B.I.A. vision statement
  • Connection of the street to woodlot – needs to draw you in
  • Natural – flora and fauna of the area
  • Pioneer history of Ancaster – 3rd oldest community in Ontario – Underground Railway
  • Could be visually musical
  • Importance of water to the area/powering the mills
  • Aboriginal history of the area
  • History of the Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum –Farmer Family bequest

Goals and themes for the project

After a short break members were asked to review their answers and prioritize them. These items are to be included in the Call for Artists document and will be used in part by the jury to determine the successful artist. 

Goals 

  • That the work creates a visual, physical or conceptual connection from the street to the forest and forest to street that will invite use of the walkway.
  • That the work is respectful of the heritage character of the Wilson Street streetscape

Themes 

The successful work should address one of the following themes:

  • The natural character of the area
  • The history of Ancaster Village; aboriginal, pioneer, water powered mills and/or underground railway

Fieldcote bequest

It was generally agreed that the Farmer family bequest of the Fieldcote Memorial Park and Museum would be most appropriately recognized in a didactic display or plaque associated with the museum building or any new addition to the building.

Contact us

Ken Coit - Program Manager Public Art and Projects
Tourism & Culture Division, City of Hamilton
28 James Street North
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 6281
Email: ken.coit@hamilton.ca