News / Calgary

Artists offer sneak peak of Calgary watershed art project

Watershed+ has artists, engineers, environmentalists collaborating

Five artists have been embedded with the city’s Utilities and Environmental Protection Department as they work on public art pieces.

Courtesy Sans facon

Five artists have been embedded with the city’s Utilities and Environmental Protection Department as they work on public art pieces.

What happens when you let artists hang around with city water engineers?

Calgarians can get a sneak peek Thursday night as Watershed+:Dynamic Environment Lab hosts an artist talk at Fort Calgary.

The project has five artists in residence working closely with the city’s Utilities and Environmental Protection Department.

The end result will be five pieces of public art that reflect on Calgary’s ever-changing watershed – the area of land that collects all of the water that flows into the city.

“The expectation is that they’ll be working on a piece of art embedded in the design process of the watershed,” said Sara Iley, manager of Arts and Culture with the city of Calgary.

The city has been holding artist in residence programs for the last four or five years. Iley said the process is valuable for the city employees as well as the artists.

She pointed to the example of Rachel Duckhouse, who had been working on drawings on the shape of the river before the 2013 flood unexpectedly hit. She then did a series of drawings after the flood.

“It was actually really interesting to see that from an artist’s perspective as well as an engineering perspective,” said Iley.

Tristan Surtees, lead artist of Watershed+, said Calgary’s artist in residence program is seen as a leading example of how artists can work with government.

He and the other artist have been given the opportunity to work along side staff in all sorts of activities.

“I was in a room yesterday with 35 water engineers,” he said.

They’ve been asked to focus on the theme of dynamic environment – the fact that the watershed is forever changing from floods to droughts and everything in between.

Surtees said the introductory event last year at the old National Music Centre was well attended, and he suspects there will be an appetite from the public to see where the artists are now.

It kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday and free tickets can be found on evenbrite.ca.

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