Bench sculpture a reflection of history

Red Deer museum-goers will soon have an unusual bench worth more than $12,000 to sit down on.

End of the Line: Red Deer Elevator Row

End of the Line: Red Deer Elevator Row

Red Deer museum-goers will soon have an unusual bench worth more than $12,000 to sit down on.

Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery is expected to have the bench, crafted by Bragg Creek artist Karen Ho Fatt, in mid January. The tentative date for installation is Jan. 15.

The City of Red Deer awarded the artist to create a piece of outdoor art for the museum. Part of her piece, entitled End of the Line: Red Deer Elevator Row, will function as a bench.

The winding seating area represents the rail lines that carried the grain to other centres and ports.

People will also notice tall pieces that look like grain elevators — buildings which were particularly important to the agricultural roots of many communities including Red Deer. A recurring wheat sheaf is used on the elevators and as one of the supports to remind people of the importance of Red Deer’s agrarian heritage.

Pat Matheson, public art co-ordinator for Recreation, Parks and Culture, said the artist began working on the piece in the summer but it hit a snag recently.

Part of the piece was laser cut by subcontractors instead of being cut with a smooth edge.

“We deemed it a little bit dangerous. . . we’ve had to drag it out a little bit because we had to make sure it was safe and hardy,” Matheson said.

Matheson recently took a look at the unfinished piece currently being housed in a welding shop. He was impressed by the piece that runs about 4.5 metres long.

“It’s a serpentine seating design and is made to look like old railway ties,” said Matheson. “And it’s supported by five grain elevators and one wheat sheaf, as far as the legs go.”

Some of the grain elevators are solid, some are skeletal. They range in height from 1.2 m to 1.8 m. The artist has also incorporated brick red, mustard yellow and other colours.

“It’s going to be in front of the museum that has a boring brick wall,” said Matheson. “It’s really going to stand out nice.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com