While We Wait

Behind Marlbourough Mall on Marlbourough Way in the NorthEast of Calgary sat a lonely bus stop with a single bench for people to sit and wait for the bus. The ground had been compacted from years of foot traffic, and the grass was resiliently pushing through the soil. The years had not been kind to this little spot, being a well used thoroughfare for many Calgarians as they wait for their buses.

Srimal Ranasinghe from Sustainable Calgary noticed a need in this area, so he contacted Daniel J Kirk (Owner and Operator of Blank Page Studios) to create an experience for people, as they wait for their buses. Daniel proceeded to call myself and Martha Zweifel (an experienced welder and Owner of Martha’s Metal Art) to design a sculpture that utilized some kind of sustainable energy.

While We Wait started as a design of what we thought could be a playful and colourful public art sculpture, using commonplace materials that could revitalize this under-utilized space. Part of the challenge with this project was to use some form of sustainable energy that was integrated into the form, showing a potential solution for bringing energy to a site that wouldn’t otherwise have it.

We decided to design the shapes out of oil barrels, something quite recognizable to Albertans and Calgarians because oil is one of our major exports. The sculpture shifts the standard cylindrical shape by bending and twisting around each other like living creatures emerging out of the ground. We worked very intuitively, and as we played with them they started to have a relationship with each other as if communicating through their movement.

When night rolls around, the sculpture takes on a new dimension as they light up with the help of LED lights embedded in each of the towering sculptures. Ido Kerpel from Eco-Smart Solutions Inc. provided the solar panel system that generates the energy we needed to power the lights, so that the sculpture could run on its own, making it a unique art project that is self-sustainable while also brightening up an otherwise forgotten space.

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