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Best outdoor art in Ottawa – Rockcliffe edition

By Sanita Fejzić on September 6, 2014




Last fall, Apt613 contributor Sanita Fejzic put together two posts rounding up the best of our city’s outdoor art. She looked at Centretown and the Market and Hull areas.

Back then she said, “Outdoor art can easily be dismissed as static. And yet, there is a discourse between the work, the artist and the viewer that is dynamic. Unique, not just for between viewers—everyone sees differently—but unique every single time an individual comes back to the piece.”

Here she is again with her top picks for Rockcliffe:

1. Soper’s Fountain by Rene Bertrand Boute

Soper’s FountainThis beautiful bronze and stone sculpture is a hidden fountain at the top of Rockcliffe, accessible only if you know where it is. I won’t tell you, because I think you should roam around the neighbourhood and get lost, get found, and find it yourself. It’s worth the trek as Rockcliffe is often misunderstood. Seen as predominantly residential and conservative, I think you can’t really judge unless you’ve taken the time to discover all that it has to offer.

This particular sculpture is my absolute favourite in Rockcliffe. It was purchased at the 1912 Paris Salon by Warren Soper, the man responsible for opening the first telephone exchange in Ottawa in 1880 and the first electric railway in 1891. He donated the sculpture in 1960 to the NCC. It is somewhat reminiscent of the famous fountain in Brussels, Manneken Pis (“Little Man Pee”) by Hieronymus Duquesnoy the Elder.

ChildrenonBench2. Unknown

It was impossible to identify this statue, but my guess is that it was made by the talented Lea Vivot who is famous for her sculpture, “The Secret Bench of Knowledge” (in front of the Library and Archives building). This sculpture uses the same bronze sculptures with the copper green colour. Both sculptures are a dedication to the love of reading. Here, the children are younger, more innocent and enjoying a book together in front of the Rockcliffe Library on Springfield Road.



3. Birds and Chipmunks by Art Price



These tiny bronze chipmunks and birds are adorable, playful and symbolic. In mid flight, resting position or about to jump, they represent the joys of being in a public park. They have a childish essence that gives them an innocent quality. It also invites you to sit down on the giant rocks and take the time to hang out with your family and friends.

It’s also a friendly reminder that public spaces, particularly green ones, are there for the enjoyment of all beings, including squirrels and pigeons and other rodents big and small, insects, butterflies, frogs and whatever else calls these spaces their home. It’s easy to assume these parks are made for humans alone and forget about all the biodiversity we cohabit with.

The installation was donated in 1967 to the Village Green by the children of Wilson and Henriette Southam to the children of Rockcliffe Park.

4. Regeneration by Floyd Elzinga



These were installed in the Village Green in 2009 in honour of Margaret Gualtieri. While a quick Google search makes it nearly impossible to know how Gualtieri was, the symbols of the pines plus the title of the piece, “Regeneration,” give a hint as to who she might have been: the pine is considered by many cultures to be the seat of the third eye, also known as the “seat of the soul,” or “epicentre of enlightenment.” Whomever this lady was, she must have been loved by many who appreciated her energy, vitality and wisdom.

Window5. Woollcombe Memorial Window by Leonard Pike

Located on the north wall of the chapel in Ashbury College, this stunning memorial window was created in 1961 for Canon Woollcombe, the founder and first headmaster of the school. I have always been an admirer of stained glass: an art I learned to appreciate while living in France and visiting medieval castles in the Loire region, among other places and churches across the world.

The symbolic numbers seven and three in this piece fascinate me, as well as the intensity, clarity and beauty of the colour blue. In the darkness of the chapel, it literally feels as though you are being penetrated by the colour blue.

The three large windows at the bottom depict Woollcombe as a teacher, preacher and counsellor, while the top seven designs, from left to right represent a crown and palm for wisdom, ivy for fidelity, a vine for the blood of Christ, a sheaf of wheat for the body of Christ, oak leaves for strength, and a cross and wreath for peace.

A bouquet of other symbols and quotes are also present but I won’t list them all; if you have the chance to see it in person, I’d take the time to meditate on each one. They convey the incredible amount of detail, precision and storytelling that was involved in the creation of this work. Ultimately, it is what it is: a testimony of the life, associations and beliefs of a very interesting man.