Sculpting the shield
Tuesday, the Haliburton Sculpture Forest officially unveils four new pieces to its permanent outdoor exhibit. Carved on the Canadian Shield is a Canada 150 project that asked artists to take a piece of limestone and over the course of three weeks, create something special for the Highlands.
The resulting works each tell a story vastly different from one another. From a whirl of wind to a gear-laden canoe, the sculptures inspire the viewer to consider what life on the Canadian Shield means.
The Sculpture Forest has been growing in Glebe Park’s forest for the last 16 years and in that time has acquired 32 works. It is an example of how partnerships and a shared vision can tangibly improve a community.
Jim Blake, the curator for the Forest, has estimated in the past that the Forest attracts some 10,000 visitors a year. On TripAdvisor, the online traveller’s companion with ratings provided by users, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive with an average 4.5/5 stars and 77 reviews.
Run by a small board and relying on grants and donors’ love of art, the Sculpture Forest is a destination in Haliburton that provides free entertainment that can be enjoyed by almost anyone.
During the summer months, the Forest hires a tour guide who leads groups in July and August on Tuesdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and on Wednesdays from 12:10 to 12:50 p.m.
Now, thanks to a smartphone app, even if you can’t make the guided tour you can go on your own, learning about each sculpture as you go.
Much has been written about the Sculpture Forest in this paper. A quick archive search brought up some 212 combined stories written and photos taken in the last decade alone.
The reason for the heavy coverage is that it is a remarkable place with a long list of benefits to the community. It’s a way to get outside on trails that are suitable for most people. The pathways are short, making it easy to adjust the length of your trip when kids get tired or if you’re on a tight schedule.
Along the way, you can breathe in fresh air coming through the trees off the lake, listen to birds and take a moment to slow down and contemplate the works of artists from around the world and our backyard. Many of the sculptures have special meaning, like the bear sculpture called Together We Explore the Wild, installed last summer in honour of beloved community member Shawn Hagerman.
Others are more open to interpretation.
Kids can ring the bells of Sound Vessel: Forest, or sit inside Atmo-Sphere, the granite sphere by John McKinnon, and imagine they’re in a secret cave. You can imagine how big a person would need to be to fit the shoe created by Charles O’Neil or feel the emotion behind the curled up figures created by Susan Low-Beer.
Or you can just go for a walk in the woods.
All of this has been provided to the community because of a group of people willing to put in the time to organize the effort. It is an example of how partnerships can amplify the impact of a good idea, making it stronger and more vibrant.
Another tour in town
The DysART 150 Trail is offering the chance to see local works at sites around the municipality. A project of the Haliburton Highlands Arts Council in partnership with Sticks and Stones Productions, it uses the same app mentioned above, PocketSights, to provide a virtual tour.
You can learn about local history, wonder at the landscapes and discover artists from the Highlands while also getting out and about in the community.
The trail is being hosted around Dysart until Oct. 10 and is a route on Hike Haliburton in September.