Written by Caitlind r.c. Brown
After Image is a growing sculpture at cSPACE King Edward in Calgary, located in the public park outside the historic sandstone building (which also houses our installation Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow).
After Image is modelled after the arched entrance of the historic sandstone school, dating back to 1912 when Calgary was known for sandstone architecture including many institutional buildings and City Hall. This sculpture was a collaborative effort between Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett, along with many projects, (In the Belly of a Bear, Without Eyes, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and ongoing project The Wandering Island).
The Grand Entrance of the King Edward School has historically been a point of exclusivity – the school originally featured separate entrances for boys and girls. Perhaps the grand entrance was used on a daily basis by teachers, but more likely it was reserved for dances and special occasions; a formal threshold for (at that time) a highly institutional space.
Community engagement for After Image at the cSPACE Farmer’s Market
While the function of the school has changed and adapted many times since its inception in 1912, the grand entrance remains remarkably intact. The passage of time has worn the soft sandstone. Rain and wind have carved their initials into the surface of the building, alongside the chicken scratch graffiti of former students – some of it surprisingly profane. Still, this threshold maintains a powerful presence and ongoing mythology, if anything exaggerated by the 15-year vacancy of the building prior to reopening as an art space.
Slightly larger than human scale (and towering high above the average middle school kid), the archway of the King Edward School is a gaping mouth. What does it mean to extend this passage forward, invisibly engulfing the lawn, opening to the street? We intend AFTER IMAGE to expand the imaginary space of the King Edward School, offering a second entrance and extending an invitation to move closer, to enter.
Borrowing from languages of contemporary architecture, AFTER IMAGE draws inspiration from the wireframe, a digital mechanism used to map non-existent architectural spaces prior to construction. We reversed this process, mapping the existing sandstone arch and creating a 22 ft tall physical wireframe emulating the architecture. While the entrance of the King Edward School will continue to change over time, affected by environmental conditions and the ongoing needs of cSPACE’s tenants, AFTER IMAGE proposes a semi-transparent shadow, a 105-year old architectural ghost haunting the school’s nearby public park.
The design of AFTER IMAGE evolved in response to discussions and budgetary realities, as all public artworks do. Drawings were made with help from RJC Engineering, and permitting was submitted with O2 Planning + Design, the same landscape architects who re-designed the public park. The artwork was fabricated by Heavy Industries in Calgary, with the expertise of their experienced metal workers.
The completed sculpture towers next to cSPACE as an architectural apparition, drawn with steel in physical space. Emulating the King Edward School’s historic grand entrance, the sculpture forms a line-drawing of the sandstone archway and columns, transposed 100 feet from their origin.
Mimicking the entrance at the time of transition between abandoned school and active arts incubator, AFTER IMAGE captures a single moment in time, and transposes it onto a growing garden. Over many years, native vines and bushes will sprout up through the cage of the sculpture, and vines will wrap its shiny façade. The resulting artwork is glistening and ethereal in some light conditions, and dark and silhouetted in others, but as time passes it will become increasingly overgrown – a lattice for Native Clematis.
Marking both a presence and an absence, an invitation and a point of passage, AFTER IMAGE uses architectural language to literally frame the King Edward School’s most public space, offering a ghost manifestation imprinted on the eye – somewhere between that which is remembered, and that which is forgotten.
This sculpture was commissioned by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts in partnership with the cSPACE Projects through the City of Calgary 1% Public Art Policy. Thanks to Heavy Industries for fabricating the artwork, O2 Planning + Design, Geoff at RJC, Centron Group, and The City of Calgary, as well as the wonderful team at cSPACE, particularly Deeter & Karilynn. Gratitude to the tenants of cSPACE for being patient with our antics, and to the community for accepting this artwork into their public space.