North Saskatechewan River: Edmonton

The North Saskatchewan River Project: Edmonton is based on the river valley that cuts through the city of Edmonton, between the High Level and the Low Level bridges. The work took place over an 8-day residency in early June, during the Works Festival, and is a two-part piece, connecting the gallery to the actual site. The installation portion of this work is in a gallery space in Commerce Place in downtown Edmonton – while the site-specific ephemeral work is set into the banks of the river, near the High Level Bridge, on the south side of the river.

This site-specific ephemeral work is situated on the south bank of the river, and can be viewed from the Legislature Building hill, overlooking the river, as well as from various other viewpoints along the riverbank and from some of the bridges crossing the river. This site work is approximately 50 feet in length and 12+ inches in height, and is made from white and nearly-white stones, ranging in size from 80 pounds to less than 1 pound, collected from the shoreline to the east and west of the site. The stone line sits approximately 5 to 6 feet up the bank from the river’s edge, and parallels the gallery installation in length. This site work speaks of the connection between the site, the natural materials collected from the site and the viewer interacting with the site materials in the gallery or non-gallery setting.

The gallery installation is approximately 50 feet in length, and honours, and takes the viewer on a visual journey based on the river. Natural materials were collected over the 8 days and suspended in a double topographic line, or section of the North Saskatchewan River. This ‘river way’ is three feet in width and bends around the corner from one room to the next – so that when the viewer is standing at either end of the installation they cannot see the other portion of the river until they round the corner. This echoes an actual walk along the river itself. Mud collected from different sites along the river was applied to the floor, delineating the space between the suspended natural materials. The natural materials collected ranged from complete sets of birds wings, crayfish and various types of feathers to Mayflies, bones and seeds, which were suspended at a height of four to six feet off of the floor and approximately 12 inches apart. Magnifying glasses are provided for viewers to explore the wide variety of natural materials found along the river. Stones were collected (but not suspended in the installation), and are found in the mud pathway. The sound of the river accompanies the viewer on their journey through the installation.

Special thanks to Allie Wojtaszek, Paul Leonard, Sharon Hjartarson and everyone at The Works.

The Works Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2006