The blog has been unusually quiet for the past couple of weeks. We spent the first week of August at Camp Harmattan in the valley of the Little Red Deer River between Olds and Sundre. There, we had no internet or cell phone service.
One afternoon, we took a short drive to the rural community of Bergen to visit Bergen Rocks International Sculpture Park. Sculptor, Morton Burke, has hosted four international symposiums on his acreage where the park is located. Twenty-three sculptors from around the world have visited, each for a period of one month. While there, each artist created a monumental sculpture in stone that was then placed in the park. One of Burke’s goals for the Bergen Rocks program is to have the sculptures moved from his property to public places in central Alberta where they can be seen and enjoyed by a wider audience. At present, two such exhibits exist, one in Olds (more about that later) and the other in Sylvan Lake. “If we can establish a few more, it’s conceivable that central Alberta will be able to claim the title of Sculpture Capital of Canada and we will start to experience art tourism which will be a new industry in our area,” says Burke.
Come take a walk around his property and look at some of the sculptures with me…
Carved in sandstone by Ireland’s Paul Haggins on his second visit to Bergen in 2009, The Elder, is an imposing piece inspired by the ancient monuments that the artist explored as a boy. Though it’s difficult to see in the photo, an eagle feather carved into the shaft of the cross represents Canadian heritage while a triple spiral, or Celtic Triskele, on the reverse is an ancient Irish symbol representing the Earth, the moon, and the sun.
The torso is a common theme for German sculptor, Tanja Roeder. In 2010 she came to Bergen and created Reflection. Carved in marble, a woman stands beside a waterfall. Directly in front of her, the water is turbulent, but further out there’s a calm pool where she can see her reflection.
Movement in Space, a sandstone sculpture of a man diving through the air with a baby on his back, perches atop a tall granite pillar. It was created in 2008 by Peerapong Duonkaew from Thailand. His objective was to create a feeling of lightness and movement using heavy rock.
Moods of the Sea, created in 2008 by Armenian sculptor, Vahe Tokmajyan, consists of three marble seashells and represents three moods of the sea; peace, tranquility, and turbulence.
Ancient Memories by Iranian, Mohamad Reza Yazdi, was one of my favourite pieces. Carrved in 2010, the marble sculpture of a father goat and his kid was inspired by earthenware found in the ancient city of Susa. The little kid looks up to his father with his majestic horns and dreams of someday exhibiting the same magnificence.
At first glance, Repression by Saeid Ahmadi from the Ukraine, looked less appealing, but then I read the description. Made of sandstone and steel at the 2010 symposium, it is a visual representation of the stress and strain of life in modern times. It gives the illusion of a solid material being bent and twisted by pressure created by the cables and wires tightening around it.
This one, Holy Horses by Amgaian Tsmegmid from Mongolia, was hubby’s favourite. Carved in marble in 2011, two horses stand in a patch of bushes on the Mongolian steppes. The artist captured the movement of the wind blowing their manes and tails and if you look closely, you’ll also see little birds flying out of the bushes that they’re standing in.
Connection is another marble sculpture that was created in 2011 by Min Kyoung Uk from Korea. The millions of fibres that would make up the two enormous ropes represent the different peoples of the world interacting with each another, but not completely connecting. If mankind figured out how to properly connect with respect for one another, the knot would come together and we would have made the right connection.
Our daughter and her three children joined us for our final weekend at Camp Harmattan and then we brought the grandkids home with us. That explains why the blog continued to be silent for another week! On the way home, we stopped at the sani-dump station in Olds to empty the trailer tanks. While our oldest grandson helped Grandpa with that task, the younger two joined me for a quick walk along the Olds Rocks! Highway 27 Sculpture Pathway. Here are just a few of our favourites…
Dominating one end of the pathway stands another cross created by Paul Haggins on his first visit to Bergen in 2008. Like The Elder, Ancient Cultures pays homage to the early cultures of both Ireland and Canada. The Celtic cross references Ireland while once again an eagle feather on the shaft speaks of the ancient cultures of Canada.
Canuck, a stylized portrait of an Iroquois man, also pays homage to our Indigenous people. It was carved in marble by Canadian sculptor, Tony Deguglielmo, at the 2009 symposium.
Prelude, also carved in 2009 by Carlos Valazquez Darias from Cuba, depicts a couple sharing a kiss.
Peerapong Doungkaew from Thailand created Rising Sun on his second visit to Bergen in 2010. It was inspired by his first visit when he saw the sunrise from his bedroom window each morning.
Now I look forward to seeing the sculptures in Sylvan Lake someday! I also join Morton Burke in hoping that other communities here in central Alberta will join the Bergen Rocks program so that more of the works that stand on his secluded rural property can be moved to locations that are more accessible to the public to be enjoyed by a much wider audience. Until that time, however, it’s well worth a drive out to Bergen to see them if you’re anywhere in the vicinity.