‘Us­ing his art to make bridges’


Toronto Star - - Gta - Jim Wilkes

What It Is: Bi­o­graph­i­cal Con­struc­tion, a two-part sculp­ture along Bruce Creek, a trib­u­tary of Lit­tle Rouge River, fea­tures a pink gran­ite stone stand­ing by the tree-shrouded wa­ter’s edge and a float­ing foam cre­ation hang­ing over the creek to re­flect light among the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings. The work’s al­ter­nate ti­tle is No­tions of Cre­ation and Per­ma­nence.

Who Com­mis­sioned It: Markham Pub­lic Art Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee. ‰ Un­veiled: July 2005. ‰ Lo­ca­tion: Bruce Creek Park, just down­stream from Toogood Pond, a stone’s throw off Main St. in Unionville, be­hind the Var­ley Art Gallery.

Artist: Farhad Nar­golO’Neill.

In­spi­ra­tion: The 37-yearold Amer­i­can-born sculp­tor came to Canada at age 2 and re­calls the park in Unionville as “my favourite stomp­ing ground as a child.”

“To come back as an adult and have a piece there was in­deed a blast for me,” says Nar­gol­from Tu­nisia, where he is cre­at­ing a huge mu­ral for the new Bri­tish Coun­cil head­quar­ters in Tu­nis.

His mother was from Belfast and his fa­ther from In­dia.

For the sym­bols etched into the gran­ite stone, he was in­spired by his mother’s Celtic Catholic roots and by his fa­ther’s Zoroas­trian roots. “The stone is the key to un­der­stand­ing the hang­ing sculp­ture,” he says.

“The stone in har­mony as a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring sub­stance and the Sty­ro­foam in con­trast to its sur­round­ing due to its na­ture, but still fit­ting in beau­ti­fully at the same time.” The de­signs in­clude Ir­ish Ogham, a script of the an­cient Ir­ish Druids, and a por­tion of the Faro­har sym­bol of Zarathus­tra, a prophet of Zoroas­tri­an­ism, the world’s first monothe­is­tic re­li­gion.

“I have used on the stone sym­bols re­lat­ing to both ‘man made’ or ‘man de­vel­oped’ monothe­is­tic re­li­gion, and also sym­bols re­lat­ing to re­li­gious prac­tice which de­vel­oped nat­u­rally, in re­sponse to the world as the an­cients saw it. This jux­ta­po­si­tion be­tween the nat­u­ral and ‘ar­ti­fi­cial’ is re­flected in my choice of ma­te­ri­als.”

John Ry­er­son, di­rec­tor of the Var­ley Art Gallery, said Nar­gol“rep­re­sents a lot of what Canada is about, which is bring­ing cul­tures to­gether.”

“He’s us­ing his art to make those bridges. He is very Cana­dian in his art, in his ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ry­er­son said the stone draws peo­ple to the wa­ter’s edge, where they dis­cover the foam sculp­ture hang­ing in the trees over the creek.

“The stone an­chors you on the earth and the other takes you to the sky,” he says. “The stone pulls you to the river­bank and then your eye is taken into a place where you wouldn’t ex­pect to see art.

“The magic of it is that for sev­eral hours of the day, the sun goes through and rip­ples on the wa­ter, re­flects off the sculp­ture and all the leaves and trees are dap­pled in this won­der­ful light.

“It dances off ev­ery­thing around it as if the whole river is part of the sculp­ture.” One in a se­ries on the sto­ries be­hind stat­ues and sculp­tures in the GTA.


This sculp­ture in Unionville’s Bruce Creek Park was in­spired by artist Farhad Nar­gol-O’Neill’s di­verse roots — Ir­ish Catholic on his mother’s side and In­dian Zoroas­trian on his fa­ther’s.

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