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Colour of the River Running Through Us

COLOUR OF THE RIVER RUNNING THROUGH US was commission from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario) to create an interactive sculptural public art installation in the ravine of the the museum's grounds.


The inspiration for the artwork came from how Canada explored and settled through the waterways, first established by the First Nations and who in turn introduced them to Samuel de Champlain, the Voyageurs and Jesuits over 400 years ago. There is no doubt that the splendour of nature as experienced on those expeditions had an effect on the oral and visual arts of the First Nations, and the books and journals of the Europeans. Today, as then, the canoe, and its mellifluous relationship with water, plays a unique role in forming and defining the Canadian imagination.


Colour of the River Running Through Us has a natural vulnerability and impermanence, where the sculptures act as blazes to guide the public through personal space for the five senses and memories, a meditative portage through the nature before us and our nature within. It is about being in a space that can be as intimate or public as one would like; from walking through the installation to following the ceremonial process of meditation and creative writing to express one’s own response to river water. It is meant to invoke the sensations of river water, and life’s flowing and constant immediacy, a participatory ceremony and ritual which reminds us that we are the river itself.


The materials which make-up the thirteen free-standing structures of the work all have an association with water. The tri-pod, its pulley systems and containers were used for centuries as a mechanism to dig and retrieve well water, while the abstracted canoe perched on top is informed by the design history of the dugout and bark canoes created in North and South America. The orb strung between the bow and stern recalls the purveyors of night and day, the sun and moon, always looking over us.


As much as the artwork is a sculptural installation, it is also sets the stage for a public ceremony, a kind of potlatch, an engagement with form and spirit. Every ceremony has its own sculptural and/or architectural grounds and/or foundation. In this case, it was ravine of the McMichael Canadian art Collection.


My goal was to create a world apart; a nowhere, anywhere, everywhere.  Natural and imperfect, connected to the earth, our memories, presence and the energy of others through a kind of potlatch of our creative spirit inspired by the memories we have of water.



If you chose to engage with the artwork, you have the opportunity to embody the memory of a river through yourself in a ceremonial and ritualized fashion. You are invited to explore and express your creativity through the imagination of mind and body.


Walk-through and explore the grounds of the installation of the thirteen river sculptures.



Engage in a ceremony to open the five senses to nature of the artwork's grounds through a series of movement meditations to evoke a ‘calling-up’ of your own memories of river water.



Let these memories inspire a poetic response through the brevity of the haiku form.



Give-up your haiku to the artwork by it depositing into one of the sculpture’s 'memory vessels' suspended in the tri-pod.


Full 45 minute interview with Peter Godard can be seen here. 
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