How the Pathway came to be....
Exhibiting Bergen Rocks sculptures in Olds is a concept the Town of Olds had been developing over a number of years, refining it to fit within plans for growth and development. Bergen Rocks originated from International Sculpture Symposia held throughout the summers of 2008 to 2010.
Professional sculptors from around the world came to stay and create sculptures at Morton Burke’s farm west of Olds near Bergen, Alberta.
Town Staff worked with Burke, the curator of Bergen Rocks, on what pieces would be available to us while maintaining an exhibit at the Bergen site. A total of ten sculptures are now on display, the last one installed in November, 2019.
The intention of exhibiting Bergen Rocks sculptures in Olds is to extend the vibrant art culture of the Olds community in a high profile area for local residents and visitors to enjoy. The Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway will draw attention to Olds, promoting a reason to come off QEII to view the display and experience the unique works of art.
Three sculptures have been purchased by the Town through the Destination Olds Collective Fund, created to focus on tourism related initiatives. The cost of the three sculptures is $40,000 with an additional delivery/installation cost of $3,000-$5,000.
The 2018 budget approved $55,000 to create an area along Highway 27 to show case art. Of that amount $11,000 was secured to exhibit pieces from the Bergen Rocks collection and $44,000 was invested into the permanent infrastructure to display the sculptures and future exhibitions of art along the Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway.
Bergen Rocks Story
Creator: Morton Burke, Sculptor/Event Coordinator
After participating in sculpture symposia in other countries, Bergen artist Morton Burke felt that the events were something we should be hosting here in Alberta. Over a five-year period he was unable to convince a community to take up his idea so he decided to go ahead and do it himself at his acreage in Bergen. He was quite sure that although the pomp and ceremony that is usually at these events in other countries, the grassroots nature of his concept would be interesting enought to attract sculptors from around the world. The first year, 19 of the 20 friends said they would love to create sculptures at his acreage so he drew five names from a hat. In its fourth year, 178 proposals for participation were received. The participants stay together in his home during the month-long event and work each day except Tuesdays when they take a trip to see some Alberta sights. The Olds Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway is comprised of some of the sculptures that have been created at Bergen Rocks. Visit the Bergen Sculpture Park to see the others.
To get to the Bergen Sculpture Park from Olds, take Hwy 27 to Sundre and turn south on Hwy 760 just after the A&W/Shell station. Go 6.4 km to Pioneer Lodge Road (Township Road 32) and turn right. Go 1.6 km to Range Road 5.4 and turn left. Go half a km to the second driveway on the right.
Title: Ancient Cultures
Artist: Paul Patrick Haggins, Ireland
Description: Paul wanted to create a sculpture that would pay homage to the ancient cultures of both Ireland and Canada. The Celtic Cross is the reference to Ireland and the feather on the shaft speaks to the ancient cultures of Canada. On one corner near the bottom are several horizontal marks. These are letters that spell Canada in an extinct language called Ogham that was used in ancient Ireland. The negative spaces in a Celtic cross are called lights. If a cross has lights, it must be placed so the faces of the cross point east and west. With this orientation, the Sun will shine through the lights to start the day and shine through the lights once again in the evening to end the day. This tradition is not widely known in Canada and many crosses can be found facing the wrong direction. Paul got his start in sculpture when he took a job restoring castles. He has been working in stone for over 35 years and has travelled to many countries around the world carving. The time spent learning in different places has made him appreciate the art of ancient cultures.
Artist: Tony Deguglielmo, Canada
Description: Canuck is a beautifully stylized portrait of an Iroquois man.
The style transitions from organic on the left (the face) to cubic on the right (the head dress).
In addition to being a beautiful form, this artistic transition speaks to the evolution of life in Canada since the Europeans came to Canada.
The sculpture denotes the transforming of the way of life from living harmoniously with nature to the ways we live now within a gridwork of roadways and predominantly cubic building styles.
Title: Desire to Be
Medium: Marble with Sandstone Base
Artist: Gerard Motondi, Kenya
Description: "Desire to Be" represents an aspiration to change from one's present status. All humans of whatever status have a desire to be. Thus successful people from the top look down to the common man's life and desire the simplicity in it. Meanwhile, the simple or common man looks up and desires a life filled with material ownership and fame. This is a driving factor in our daily lives. We are never content with what we have or what we are, hence making our daily lives a struggle to achieve our desires. Gerard holds a Doctorate degree in Fine Art from Kenyatta University in Kenya where he is a professor of art. He has participated in many international arts events and, notably, was the gold medal winner in the 2008 Beijing Sculpture Olympics. His sculptures can be seen in sculpture parks around the world. He was pleased to participate in Bergen Rocks 2009 as it gave him the opportunity to reconnect with several artists that he has worked with in other symposia. The major impetus for sculptors to particpate in these events is to have to opportunity to create art in foreign countries, to share techniques and inspirations with other artists and to allow the public to become familar with the tendencies of modern sculpture.
Artist: Nguyen Tan Cuong, Vietnam
Description: There are many problems in the world that man has created such as wars, drugs, pollution and discrimination.
Now the world is a smaller place and we interact more than ever, but we aren't doing the best job of that. If everyone made a small change, the world could be a better place.
It doesn't need a big change, only a small one like the pearl of wisdom in the palm of the hand.
Artist: Carlos Valazquez Darias, Cuba
Description: In a predominantly cubic stlyle, this sculpture depicts a couple sharing a kiss.
Title: Rising Sun
Artist: Peerapong Doungkaew, Thailand
Description: Peerapong participated in Bergen Rocks twice. "Rising Sun" is the sculpture he created on his second visit. This sculpture was inspired by his first visit in 2008. Each morning when he woke up he saw the sun rising from his bedroom window. It is made from one of the most beautiful stones to be used at Bergen Rocks. The design of this sculpture can be appreciated by walking slowly around it while looking at it. With every step the sculpture will change/evolve. It truly has 100 personalities. Peerapong has a Master of Fine Art Degree - MFA Silpakorn University, Bangkok. Now retired, he was a professor of sculpture at Chiang Mai University, Thailand for many years. He is also an accomplished painter and print maker. Peerapong has been exhibiting his art and participating in sculpture events around the world since 1986.
Artist: Gang Chu, China
Description: Jiang did not intend "Spring" to convey a message or to make a statement.
It is simply a pleasing form that exhibits the artist's skill in design and carving.
It is difficult to not imagine a piece of jazz music when viewing this scupture.
Artist: Chien Minh Pham, Vietnam
Description: Spring is a dual representational sculpture. The form could represent a flower in the spring, ready to bloom and be beautiful. In the centre at the top a small half circle making the representations of the lower torso of a young lady wearing a sarong is easy to recognize.
Several of the artists' statements/interpretations mention that the sculpture is talking about or saying something. This is common as the artists often wish to convey something beyond the beauty of the form. In following with that, sculptors will often be referred to as "authors" of their works.
Chien holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art, specializing in sculpture from the Fine Art University of Ho Chi Minh City. Chien lives in Ho Chi Minh City and sometimes teaches sculpture at his alma mater. He has participated in many symposia including An Giang Impressions at Chao Doc, where he became friends with Morton who was representing Canada. At the time, this event was the largest symposium ever held.
Title: Yin and Yang
Artist: Hung Tran Viet
Description: Yin and Yang is a Chinese term that roughly translates to balance or harmony. At the top of Hung's sculpture is a man, the recessed area is a woman with hair flowing down her back and the negative space is the baby.
With the form balanced on the end of the column, this sculpture is demonstrating that family is a good balance for your life.
Hung is a well-known sculptor in Vietnam. He earned his Bachlor of Fine Art Degree at Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art University.
Several of his sculptures have been placed in public. Morton and Hung have particpated together in several events and each of them have had monumental sculptures placed in the permanent collection of Hassla Open Air Museum in South Korea.
Yin and Yang is the only sculpture created at Bergen Rocks using Granite. The material was salvaged from a building in Vancouver that was being demolished.
Granite is extremely hard compared to marble and completing this sculpture in only one month is a considerable feat.
Title: Thierry’s Spirit
Artist: Morton Burke, Canada
Description: The buffalo is an animal that is culturally significant to many of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. It’s meat was used for food, other parts were used for clothing, shelter and spiritual ceremonies. Nearly everyone who sees this sculpture will instantly recognize this connection.
The buffalo that this sculpture is modeled after was hunted by my grandfather in 1960, the last year that licences were issued and the year that I was born. The taxidermy mount of the head hung in the main vestibule of Olds Agricultural College for over 20 years adding to the local significance of this sculpture.
A few days after I started the work of transforming the raw stone into the form of a buffalo I received the sad news that Thierry Lauwers had passed away. Thierry was one of the world’s most prolific creators of public art, he was taken from us much too early in his life leaving far too many art works not yet realized. Thierry was a strong and honorable man who will be dearly missed by the international sculpture community, it is with the deepest respect that I dedicate this sculpture to his memory.