Churchill Park Public Art Project

Collection of images of Churchill Park

Project Award

The City of Hamilton has completed a Public Art process to commission permanent public art works to be located along a new path in the western section of Churchill Park, also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens Teaching Garden.

The volunteer citizen jury has selected the work "be:longings" by Gary Barwin, Simon Frank and Tor Lukasik-Foss as the winning proposal. Read the Churchill Park Public Art Jury Report (PDF, 368 KB) for details of the discussion.

Installation is expected in the fall of 2019, pending the completion of the new pathway.

Concept Statement

You walk along a path. A suitcase rests nearby. You take a closer look and discover that it’s made of bronze. It looks like there’s a rip in the side, and through it you can see rocks inside the case. It’s intriguing. You keep walking. More suitcases are along the path ahead. Each of them has something natural, something elemental inside. Whose belongings are they? Are they what has been carried, what one must bring with - both history and hope? Where have these people come from? Where are they going? Where do they belong? Is this a path of travel, escape, becoming?

In the central garden area there is a bench. On one side, someone has set down a briefcase. It, too, is bronze. What is inside? Where did the person go? Did they hide or disappear? In the centre of the garden, a living tree grows out of another bronze suitcase. The case is open. It has sheltered and protected the tree, enabled it to take root, and grow free. On the other side of the garden, there are more suitcases along the path. Others have travelled, others will converge here. Others will take root, will grow free.

Churchill PArk Public Art Belongings Path concept image

be:longings is comprised of a series of ten bronze-cast suitcases situated in different locations along the length of the new Churchill Park pathway. The suitcases are various sizes and styles, and on each, there is a different kind of small—a patched rip, a broken clasp, a bursting seam—revealing natural materials contained inside each case. Some of the cases have luggage tags or labels, which are embossed or engraved with symbolic imagery and text. These detailed elements on the suitcases engage viewers in up-close and tactile interactions with the artwork, as they examine the individual pieces. The suitcases lead viewers along the path to the culminating element of the artwork: a living tree emerging out of an open suitcase in the central garden. 

The suitcases refer to concepts of travel, escape, refugees, emigration, the writing, language and administration of laws and rights (e.g. Raoul Wallenberg granting passports which enabled Jews to escape.) The elemental materials in the cases, each vital to the existence of both humanity and the natural world, relate to the weight or gravity of human history and experience and our connectedness to the circumstance of place. The tree represents strength, hope, and the overcoming obstacles, as it pushes through that which contains, obstructs, and controls its capacity to thrive.

be:longings is a thoughtful interactive sculpture that leads the public along a path inspired by the actions of Raoul Wallenberg, yet reflective of universal principles of human rights. Its accessible message invites participation, as viewers consider what human rights are, and how—despite the trials of history and the vicissitudes of oppression—humanity and its ideals are ultimately hopeful, inextinguishable, and irrepressible.

Public Consultation Results

The public were invited to review 6 short listed proposals and to provide comments during consultation online, at the City of Hamilton website and Hamilton Public Library Westdale Branch from March 15 to April 8, 2019. Thank you to the 166 people who have provided their comments on this complex project. Public consultation ended April 8th 2019. The comments will be reviewed by the volunteer citizen jury and considered along with artistic excellence criteria and technical concerns in their determination of the winning proposal.

View the consultation final results (PDF, 673 KB).

Call for Artists

The Call for Artists closed on November 22, 2018. The City of Hamilton received 44 submissions and would like to thank the artists who made proposals to this competition.  The jury will meet shortly to consider the submissions and shortlisted proposals will be posted for public consultation in Winter 2019.

Focus Group Report

A focus group was held with community stakeholders, artists and subject matter experts on July 30, 2018. 
Churchill Park Public Art Focus Group Report (PDF, 182 KB)

Contact us

Ken Coit - Manager
Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
Tourism & Culture Division, City of Hamilton
28 James Street North, 2nd Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 6281
Email: [email protected]