West Kootenay sculptor Brent Bukowski is hard at work on a new piece which will be unveiled as part of the new Evergreen Line in the Lower Mainland and featured in the foyer of the Burquitlam Sky Train Station. It's called Burquitlam: Between and Beyond.

Kootenay sculptor celebrates rapid transit

Brent Bukowski’s work will be featured at the under-construction Sky Train station in Burquitlam.

West Kootenay sculptor Brent Bukowski isn’t yet allowed to say much about his large-scale installation Burquitlam: Between and Beyond, which will grace the foyer of an under-construction Sky Train station on the new Evergreen Line, but he can say it will be completed using found materials, will incorporate environmental and historical themes and will be installed sometime in 2016.

“This piece is about acknowledging the history of a community settled in the 1800s on a road well-traveled, and the transformation of that neighbourhood now that it’s going to be connected by rapid transit, which is quite significant,” said Bukowski.

The station will be located on the fringes of Burnaby and Coquitlam, close to Simon Fraser University, and developers anticipate a new community forming around the station once it’s completed. Bukowski said the project is enormous, involving Translink, several municipalities and the B.C government.

“This is quite an introduction to bureaucracy and large-scale infrastructure. There are cranes everywhere and all these buildings are going up, surrounding this yet to be opened area,” said Bukowski.

His work will celebrate the move away from automobile culture.

“I’m a big fan of rapid transit and these stations, the zoning around them, follows an urban design model called transit-oriented development strategies. That’s an urban design model that prioritizes modes of transport other than the automobile, to the extent that they won’t even allow drive-through restaurants.”

That fits in nicely with his environmental beliefs, he said.

For this piece, Bukowski worked with Nelsonite Don Willems of EffiStruc Consulting. After searching for an engineer in Toronto and Vancouver, he said he was thrilled to find a professional this close to home.

“The project required a structural engineer, and this was the first time I worked with one. I didn’t know what to expect working with Don but ultimately it turned into a very inspiring experience. Some of my design included over-building and under-building, so it’s his job to make sure the structure is sound. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, that sort of thing.”

Bukowski said he looks forward to working with Willems in the future, and hopes the project will open up new opportunities for public art. His first public commission, the Railtown bridge railing, was instrumental in getting him this opportunity.

“Public art is a sort of chicken and egg thing, where the criteria is you have to have a piece of public art to your credit to even apply. If it wasn’t for that opportunity the City of Nelson gave me, I wouldn’t have even been able to apply for this one. They opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me, and I hope that’s the direction my art progresses.”

Bukowski recently finished his technical design, and said he’s “inches away from a green light”.

“I’m 9-5ing it, though it’s more like 6-4ing it, just concentrated production work in my studio.”

He anticipates that he will have completed the piece by November 30. Once the Burquitlam station has been constructed it will be installed, then unveiled at a grand opening.

For more information visit brentbukowski.ca.

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