Glass art captures community interest

Nebula Garden

Two Sechelt artists, Bill Baker and Claudia Cuesta, unveiled a spectacular new public artwork in North Vancouver recently.

Titled Nebula Garden, the glass painting is made of three-centimetre thick by two-metre high, fused/cast glass panels creating a 12-metre long soft curve of 16 connecting panels. Orbs of colour, like distant galaxies, float in the translucent glass structure — the painting has varying densities and opacities — taking on shifting qualities with varying light and perspectives.

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“The artwork changes with the light,” Baker said, “and becomes animated with different light and weather conditions.”

It is situated at the entrance to a pedestrian pathway that leads down to the Lonsdale Quay Market and the Seabus station.

In early December, North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto and the community turned out to watch the unveiling.

The two artists are delighted with the response to their work, saying that people seem to have an immediate connection to the art piece. It realizes their intent to demystify art and influence the urban environment as each person walking by is involved in the experience. The two were present at the unveiling.

“We have been able to witness people’s facial expressions change,” Baker said, “as they slow down and try to make sense of the detail and the whole.”

It was difficult to put together. The couple described it as “meticulous and arduous,” taking about one year to complete. Experimenting with the medium of glass takes patience and labour, they explained. It takes time to heat and cool large pieces of glass in addition to adding and embedding colour. They had to rig up cranes in their studio to move the panels.

“There was a lot of tension in the process of fabrication including the installation, Baker said, “where everything had to fit with very little tolerance to create one seamless visual experience.”

The result is dazzling and evokes the idea of the cosmos.    

Nebula Garden was commissioned by the developer, Fairborne Capstan Homes, in collaboration with the City of North Vancouver as a public art project, part of the new revitalization of Lower Lonsdale, which also includes a new Presentation House Art Gallery design by Patkaus architects.

Cuesta has an MFA from The Slade School of Fine Art in the U.K. and Baker is a residential designer and urban planner. Together as they have created public art works at home and abroad. Currently they are working on three large projects, including one for the central station in St. Louis, Missouri.

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