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City plan to fill in sculpture is 'breaking the law for artistic expression'

The sculpture 'Raven's Nest' in the Uji Feature Garden of Riverside Park remains blocked while city officials determine how to fill the empty space underneath it.
April 15, 2015 - 11:38 AM

KAMLOOPS - The artist behind a rock sculpture in Riverside Park is concerned about the city’s plan to alter his piece of work to prevent others from entering the space beneath it after a woman died there last month. 

Bill Vazan, a Montreal-based artist, was commissioned to carve his granite stones piece Raven’s Nest in 2002. Five boulders etched with carvings to depict swirling wind and bird flight forms are stacked together, forming a small void under the rocks.

Around 2 a.m. on March 31 a woman climbed into the space, accidentally caught on fire and died in hospital hours later. Friends and family of the 40-year-old say the incident was a religious ritual “gone horrifically wrong.” 

"I’m very sorry for what happened,” Vazan said. "My condolences to this husband. It’s not what my art is supposed to do. I’m quite contrite over that kind of thing."

Parks department supervisor, Shawn Cook, said the department hired a structural engineer to examine the sculpture and make recommendations on how to fill it. It is the only sculpture they are currently reassessing for public safety.

Even though the city owns the piece, Vazan said officials don’t have the right to change it.

“My position is that they’re going to be breaking the law for artistic expression in the country. My intention, when I left it there, is what I intend it to be,” he said.

While officials are still in the preliminary phases of making a change, Vazan said no one has approached him to discuss the amendments and fears contractors will fill the space with concrete. The artist says the city is 'misguided in its recovery' and advises smaller boulders be used as fill or to put up a sign advising park visitors to stay off the sculpture instead.

"Every city has statues. Anybody can climb on top of one of these things, fall off and break a neck. This is like bolting the door after the horse has gone,” Vazan said.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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