Client: Beedie Living
Location: Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $45,000
AJS Design Inc.
“Every Leaf Speaks Bliss To Me” at Beedie Living’s The Austin, a mixed residential and retail development located in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. The work is a large hydrangea petal in winter, plasma cut in brushed stainless steel (12′ long x 8′ wide). It is mounted 25' high on the building’s outdoor chimney wall, set at an angle leaning away from the wall at the top edge. The height and angle enables pedestrians and motorists to have a better view of the work from the street below and allows shadows to be cast on the wall on sunny days.
The client’s explicit goal for the artwork was to enhance the development with a unique identity: something instantly apparent and iconic that would make The Austin stand apart from any other structure. Not long after the installation was completed, I received an email from a woman who explained that she works at a nearby building. She wrote: “My office is just a block away from [The Austin], and as I was driving through the intersection the other day, with the sun glinting on the building, the leaf looked so beautiful. Without it, the building would seem so austere. It's given me a new appreciation for the impact of public art!”
I worked directly with the developer, Beedie Living, who approached me after being particularly drawn to my prior artwork relating to the aesthetic appeal of structures found in nature. In collaboration with my fabricator, Alan Storey, I developed a detailed design. I then worked with Alan to fabricate a full size MDF model that we hoisted 25’ up against the side of his studio building to assess how the form would look from a distance and what specific angle and forward tilt would produce the most effective shadows. I often introduce myself as “The Artist in a Hardhat,” a reference to how much joy I get from being deeply involved in the hands-on process of design, manufacture and installation of my projects. For “Every Leaf Speaks Bliss To Me” I joined in the work of crafting the full scale template, was on the scaffolding helping to install the bolts to the wall, and then later worked alongside Alan attaching the finished leaf to the building.
The hydrangea can be seen as a metaphor for the vision of Coquitlam’s Citywide Official Community Plan. Each hydrangea petal is like a “compact, complete community” connected to other communities. Each neighbourhood is unique, yet shares a base structure of interconnected streets. One can think of each neighbourhood as a petal that connects to other petals and then to whole clusters of flowers. Plant veins are a transportation network for the lifeblood of the plant just as streets are a transportation network for the lifeblood of the community. The title is from the poem “Fall, leaves, fall” by Emily Brontë.