‘Using his art to make bridges’
* FACTS ON FIGURES
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.