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This article was published 18/12/2017 (665 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Collin Zipp has made his artistic mark on a busy junction in St. Vital.
Zipp, 40, is the creator of a new piece of new public artwork titled Watershed, which is located at the junction of St. Anne’s Road and St. Mary’s Road.
The public sculpture, which features lit canoes, was commissioned by the Winnipeg Arts Council in collaboration with the Old St. Vital BIZ as part of the redevelopment of the transit plaza at the intersection.
Organizers say the artist worked closely with the BIZ’s design team so that the renovated plaza would complement and prominently feature the new artwork, providing a focal point for people passing by. The plaza renovation will be completed with paving stones and plantings in the spring.
Zipp — a multidisciplinary artist whose mediums include video, photo, sculpture, painting and installation — was inspired, in part, by a visit to the St. Vital Museum across St. Mary’s Road, where he saw a birch bark canoe and historical photos from the flood in 1950, when the junction was submerged under water and canoes were used to transport people and supplies.
"It was a long process of research looking through the history of the area," said Zipp, who is the director of the PLATFORM Centre, an artist-run centre in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.
"During this process, the image of the canoe kept popping up, whether it was for travelling or trading. In terms of the floods, canoes were crucial transport goods or to see each other. I love working with my hands and I wanted to create a tall sculpture that reflects the history of the area."
To achieve this, Zipp — whose extensive artistic resume includes a year-long residency at the Living Prairie Museum a decade ago — worked with actual canoes, which he altered, stood on one end and replaced the branding with historical neighbourhood references to the early Métis settlement in the area, the old Windsor Theatre that was across the street, the original St. Vital archway where the streetcar line ended, the Red River lot where the sculpture now stands, and dates marking the levels of Winnipeg’s significant floods.
"The symbols on the canoes are put there to mimic traditional canoe branding, but these are relevant to the area and act as wayfinders," Zipp said.
"The red canoe represents lot 106, as the sculpture sits on the original land lot numbered 106; the yellow canoe represents a stylized version the arches that once welcomed visitors to the area; the green canoe represents the significant floods in 1826, 1950 and 1997; the ‘w’ symbol on the white canoe faces the old Windsor Theatre, which is now Miller’s Meats; and the Métis flag is on the brown canoe, which is the tallest canoe and looks over the others and the area signifying the importance and history of the Métis people."
Noting his gratitude for all the help and support he has received during the process, including the key role played by the Wall Street-based KM Sheet Metal, Zipp is looking forward to his sculpture standing the test of time, as it’s been built to withstand Winnipeg’s unforgiving winter climate.
"It will be there until it’s not there and may change as the area changes. As well, it will need maintenance over time, of course. It’s also lit from the bottom and it looks beautiful at night," added Zipp, who currently lives in the St. John’s area and grew up in Tyndall Park and St. James.
"I’m simply honoured to have been able to do this. It’s very exciting and a bit scary. If I go to St. Vital, it will be interesting to see it, as I lived with it for so long in the studio. It’s humbling that other people will now be able to enjoy it."
Community journalist — The Lance
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7111