A conspiracy flies through Haliburton Sculpture Forest 0
Barb Bolin, left and Sandra Dupret examine 'A Conspiracy of Ravens', the most recent sculpture to be unveiled at the Haliburton Sculpture Forest on July 9. ANGELICA BLENICH/HALIBURTON COUNTY ECHO/QMI AGENCY
They glide along the top of a rock with intent in their eyes.
Their detailed wings flap against the wind, their mouths ajar with hunger.
A Conspiracy of Ravens is just that, a conspiracy that begs the questions where are they going and what are they thinking?
The latest sculpture to be unveiled at the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, A Conspiracy of Ravens, was met with oohs and aahs by a bustling crowd gathered in Glebe Park on July 9.
As a blue tarp came up nine steel and fabricated birds were revealed, much to the delight of all in attendance, particularly Jim and Bob Blake who had tears in their eyes.
Created by artist John McKinnon, the sculpture was commissioned and made possible through a generous donation by Noreen Blake, Jim’s mother.
The sculpture was installed on July 8, with the Blakes the first members of the public to see the final product.
McKinnon called the moment “serendipitous.”
“To see her smiling and looking at the piece made it all worthwhile. It was just a wonderful moment that lasted about an hour,” he said.
Summer residents of the Highlands for the past 60 years, Bob and Noreen are avid supporters of the Haliburton School of the Arts and the sculpture forest, having taken courses at the college and serving as forest tour guides.
Wanting to contribute to the outdoor art venue, Noreen proposed a sculpture competition with a theme centred on birds of the region.
“I want to thank Noreen for her passion for both the sculpture forest and Haliburton. Without her generosity we wouldn’t have this sculpture,” said Barb Bolin, chairwoman of the forest’s board of directors.
Curator of the sculpture forest, Jim Blake, said his mother got the inspiration to donate a sculpture from other generous patrons, such as Janis Parker and Diana Ferguson.
During the process the board put out a call for proposals and received 60 submissions, said Bolin.
“There was a very, very long deliberation day that happened and from that seven were chosen and given to Noreen.”
The submissions were of the utmost artistic quality, the board would have been with many of them, said Bolin.
“When they told me there had been 60 submissions for this job and that I had got it, I thought, gee that’s an awful lot of pressure,” said McKinnon.
Noreen made the final selection, choosing the cluster of ravens.
“We really appreciate that John chose us to submit this fabulous piece to,” said Bolin.
A resident of British Columbia, McKinnon drove the sculpture made out of fabricated and welded steel across the country to Haliburton, the birds resting atop his Jeep.
Primarily working with stone, bronze, steel, clay and concrete, McKinnon has been sculpting for the past 40 years.
“I’m more known as a stone carver but I began to play around with steel and formed this bizarre love relationship with it,” said McKinnon while he explained his creative process.
McKinnon is no stranger to the Haliburton School of the Arts, having taught sculpture courses at the college in past years. The artist first came to Haliburton in 1988.
Haliburton School of the Arts principal Sandra Dupret emphasized the value McKinnon’s work adds to the forest and the college.
“That’s not something you can exhibit on a slide or a screen … the Haliburton campus and I think the community as well really appreciate how valuable this is. What we have here truly is a cultural resource,” she said.
A Conspiracy of Ravens is the 22nd installation to be added to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, which has become nationally recognized, according to Bolin.
“Anytime you come here you’ll see people enjoying the forest,” said Bolin.