Sculpture and serenity

In the 40 years since its foundation was laid, the Vallican Whole Community Centre has been many things, including a school and dance hall. Now you can add outdoor art gallery.

In the 40 years since its foundation was laid, the Vallican Whole Community Centre has been many things, including a school and dance hall. Now you can add outdoor art gallery.

The new addition takes visitors through an eco-sculpture park on the 11-acre forested grounds, showcasing works by upcoming and established local artists.

“It’s happening in a lovely, organic way,” says Monica Carpendale of Nelson’s Kutenai Art Therapy Institute. “The idea is paths and pods. It draws you into the woods.”

Carpendale got involved in the community centre when it was first conceived and also taught at the Vallican Whole school in its early days, so she’s seen the various incarnations.

The inspiration for the sculpture park came out of a discussion with fellow artist Shelley Hancock.

“We were talking about legacies with both of our husbands passing away and as artists. I’ve always been interested in eco and earth art sculpture and folk and naive art. I suggested why couldn’t we develop a bit of a park? People have gotten really excited about it.”

She envisioned it as a place where sculptures could find permanent homes while incorporating and highlighting the natural environment around them.

The park opened last summer and was a stop on this past weekend’s Columbia Basin Trust Culture Tour.

There are five major pieces, plus several others created during a sculpture symposium and various other workshops. Among them:

• An earth art piece by Nelson’s Thomas Loh entitled Flow, in which fallen birch is arranged into curving, river-like forms.

• A totem pole by retired UBC English professor Jan de Bruyn — an expert on Milton’s Paradise Lost — that represents the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

• A piece of trash art contributed by Whole caretaker Seamus Gray, called The Rusty Man. It’s made from scrap metal draggwed out of the river.

• A memorial bell that Passmore’s Carl Schlichting hung from a tree in memory of a young boy who died last fall. “It’s got a beautiful sound,” Carpendale says.

Work parties are on site at least one Sunday morning per month, digging roots, moving rocks, and creating paths. Much more is in the works.

“There will be, I’m sure, more pieces as it comes along,” Carpendale says. “We’re hoping to do another symposium, and maybe have a summer school out there.”

Interpretive signs are also planned, and guides will be available for tours and field trips.

(CORRECTION: This story originally stated, erroneously, that the sculpture park resulted from a discussion between Carpendale and Lou Lynn.)

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