Delta Garden + The City Unseen
Material: Brass survey monuments, sandblasted concrete
Location: Calgary, Canada. South Bank of the Bow River at the mouth of the Peace Bridge.
Artists: Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett
Designed specifically for the Bow River pathway, Delta Garden + The City Unseen uses 12,000 brass survey monuments to create a shimmering river of sediment, curling through the delta-shaped garden. Traditionally, survey monuments are permanent markers used to pin-point coordinates, establish property lines, and assist surveyors in mapping the landscape. But what happens when the landscape itself is not solid? Given enough time, mountain ranges shift, wildfires reshape forests, and rivers snake through the landscape in a serpentine, ever-changing way. Delta Garden + The City Unseen re-appropriates survey monuments to explore the dissonance between manmade methods of mapping the land, the land’s natural divisions, and the power of our perceptions to transform any given place.
Text on the brass monuments was gathered through The Invisible City Survey, a public survey named after Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (1972). Standing in a survey booth (resembling a lemonade stand) on the riverwalk, the artists asked Calgarians two questions:
Where are you going?
Where do you want to be?
Words and phrases from the surveys were engraved into the brass markers, creating an esoteric narrative in the concrete. Even a few drawings were re-created by the artists. Over time, the text will wear and the monuments will tarnish. The most popular routes through the Delta Garden will be polished underfoot. Intended to trace desire lines through (and beyond) our city, the artwork speaks to myths + maps, rivers + boundaries, nature + culture, in an effort to illuminate the unseen cities beneath our everyday experience.
Commissioned for the City of Calgary Public Art Collection.