Biodegradable Art

Art works commemorating Stanley Park blowdown aren't meant to be around forever.

Credit: Paul Colangelo

In the aftermath of the December 2006 blowdown, Vancouverites were devastated to see nearly 40 hectares of Stanley Park’s greenspace uprooted. The outcry of public grief prompted the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to launch the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project.

The purpose was “to create environmental art that values the nature of the park,” explains Jil Weaving, coordinator of the park board’s Arts and Culture office. The call for artworks went out in 2007 and six local artists were selected. Unlike the bronze monuments of yesteryear, none of these works is meant as a permanent tribute. Instead, they are meant to evolve as they interact with the elements, eventually returning to the park’s ecosystem.

Shirley Wiebe’s Hibernators, for example, comprises degradable sacks filled with wood chips from the park, and placed in the former polar bear pit. “The eerie sense of atmosphere intrigued Shirley,” explains Weaving.