Artist Named for Guelph's
Millennium Time Sculpture

Artist John McEwen with his Time Sculpture model

Remembering the past … looking to the future — that is the essence of the proposal put forward by sculptor John McEwen who has been awarded the commission for Guelph’s Millennium Time Sculpture. Members of the City of Guelph Millennium Committee made this announcement during a brief presentation at the March 20, 2000, meeting of Guelph City Council. At that time, they also confirmed that Guelph has been successful in its application to the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation for Main Street Ontario funding to cover half the costs of the sculpture’s creation and installation.
McEwen, of Hillsdale, Ontario, near Barrie, was one of three artists short-listed last year at the first stage of the Time Sculpture Competition. He has twenty years’ experience in creating art in public places across Canada, including major commissions at such locations as the National Museum of Aviation in Ottawa, and the recently-opened Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Entitled “Time Line / Water Line,” McEwen’s concept is of “the canoe as a time sculpture.” He sees the symmetry of the canoe as “pointing to where it is going and where it has been.” He also envisions the canoe as the perfect vehicle for the hope that lies behind the whole idea of a time capsule — a hope that says that “something that was personally significant in one’s life might be of significance to others in the future.” His elevated, open canoe structure will both carry and reveal its cargo, an inscribed box that will contain the personal time capsules that will be collected from Guelph citizens and sealed into the box during the final stages of the sculpture’s creation.

Competition jurors – independent curator Joe Wyatt, artist and professor Monica Tap and Guelph architect Stephen Gazzola – praised the elegance and simplicity of McEwen’s Design, includinghis choice of materials — brushed stainless steel and bronze. They also commended his sensitivity to the riverside site adjacent to the River Run Centre, particularly applauding his proposal to install the sculpture parallel to the river so that the canoe’s ribs will serve to “animate the river” and “bring it in and out of focus” for those walking or driving.

3embers of the City of Guelph Millennium Committee expressed delight at the results of the time sculpture competition. “Guelph is fortunate to have attracted an artist of McEwen’s stature,” noted committee mem ber Sally Wismer of Guelph Arts Council. “We can be quite confident that Guelph will be gaining a significant new piece of public art that will enhance the downtown landscape and attract visitors.” At the same time, she added, “we will be creating an unique time capsule that will, in John McEwen’s own words, ‘lift and carry forward’ the experiences of Guelph citizens in a ‘most significant and eloquent way’.”

Time Line / Water Line” will be installed by September 30, 2000. On June 17, 2000, the Millennium Committee will begin collecting the individual time capsules that will become the canoe’s cargo. (See adjacent article)