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Public art at City Hall

Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1J1

City Hall displays artwork on each and every floor, at entranceways, in stairwells, and outside along pathways and grounds.

The Acrobat's Rocking Horse, Set Free

Title: The Acrobat's Rocking Horse, Set Free
Artist: Victor Tolgesy (1928 - 1980)
Year: 1974
Materials: laminated plywood
Location: Floor 2
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1985-0036

A lifesized stylized sculpture of a horse.

Victor Tolgesy built this sculpture based on the principles of simplicity, balance and proportions.  Born in Hungary, Victor Tolgesy moved to Canada in 1951 and began exhibiting in 1958.  He left a permanent mark on the visual arts in Ottawa through his contributions as an artist, educator and leader in the artistic community.  In 1973, he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Victor Tolgesy's work is included in numerous public and private collections. He completed the City of Ottawa's first public art commission, a papier-mâché sculpture entitled McClintock's Dream, for the ByWard Market Building in 1978. 

Fable VII

Title: Fable VII
Artist: Trevor Gould
Year: 1990
Materials: cast iron and bronze, sand blasted glass
Location: Jean Pigott Place and East Courtyard
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0401

Fable VII consists of 3-components; the interior inscription, a bronze element in the exterior pool, and the lion with an accompanying frame. The artist anticipates the viewer to gravitate towards the interior pool inside the main lobby and find the inscription "Ex Oriente Lux" (Out of the East comes Light) on the glass windows. From this vantage point the exterior pool will come into the viewer's line of vision, followed by the lion and the frame.  The work establishes interplay between interior and exterior spaces and creates a dialogue between the architecture of surrounding buildings.  While the bronze frame acts as a sundial, the element in the pool animates the area year long, presenting notions of constant renewal through the use of sunlight and directional alignment.  As a complement to Fable VII, local Artist Philip Fry created a landscape garden with Hybrid Lowbush Blueberries, local pink Meadowsweet Spirea Tomentosa and granite stones, arranged to suggest the shape of reclining animals. Trevor Gould was born in 1951, Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved to Canada in 1980.                        

Family Portrait

Title: Family Portrait
Artist: Stephen Brathwaite
Year: 1992
Materials: glass and bronze castings mounted to north side of building
Location: North Facade
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0362

Stephen Brathwaite belongs to the social realism school of art. Though his work is representational, the underlying meanings and inspiration justify viewer contemplation. Creating a welcome feeling of intimacy in the arcade, Family Portrait celebrates the individuals that comprise the 'regional family'. Chosen for their diversity, contributions, and eccentricities, Brathwaite cast the faces of 28 individuals ranging from a spiked-haired student/photographer in Nepean to a farming husband and wife team in Kanata. These individuals reflect the spirit and character of their municipality and together create a time capsule. The municipalities represented here are Cumberland, Gloucester, Goulbourn, Kanata, Nepean, Osgoode, Ottawa, Rideau, Rockcliffe, Vanier and West Carleton. Born in Ottawa, Stephen Brathwaite is a well-respected glass artist who studied his BA at Carleton University, 1971.

The Living Room

Title: The Living Room
Year: 1995
Materials: aluminum
Location: West courtyard
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0327

Originally planned as a theatrical stage set with props, this invented room provides a place for personal thinking and public observation. As visitors walk around and through The Living Room, a relationship between the participant's body and each object at the site begins. A doorway, some chairs, a window and a television have been positioned close together to replicate the intimacy of an interior space and to acknowledge the spatial limits of an urban environment. Visitors are encouraged to enter the scene and consider how ideas are formed by the events taking place in the outside world.

In 1991, Nickolas D. Semanyk and Jason Grant-Henley, both of whom studied architecture at Carleton University, formed a partnership and named it URBAN KEIOS.

The Lost Child

Title: The Lost Child
Artist: David Ruben Piqtoukun
Year: 1990
Materials: Kingston hue sandstone
Location: West Courtyard
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0364

Centuries-old Inuit customs of guiding travellers inspired the artist to create this cairn, a directional marker. The assemblage of stones recalls the artist’s childhood experience of wandering amongst tall city buildings. The leading stone represents a sentinel, its voice shining as it calls out. Symbolizing triumph over the feeling of alienation in the urban environment, this gathering site provides a place of respite and contemplation.

Born near Paulatuk, Northwest Territories, artist David Ruben Piqtoukun grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. At age 22, he began stone carving and re-established his connection to Inuit culture by collecting traditional stories and ways of living from family and community elders.

The largest boulder in this assemblage, which is built with sandstone from Kingston, Ontario, is 5.8 metres tall and weighs 27,000 kilograms.


Title: Nautilus
Artist: Paula Murray
Year: 1991
Materials: anodized aluminum, translucent ceramic
Location: Suspended from ceiling near Lisgar Street entrance
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0361

Drawing inspiration from the nautilus shell, Paula Murray created Nautilus to celebrate the rhythmic energy paralleled in nature and society. The mathematically correct architecture of the symbolic spiral structure instils energy, strength, power, and unity into the work. Whether viewed from below on the first floor or at eye level from the second floor, Nautilus reveals an airy sense of movement with a continuous play of light and shadow. The lustrous and delicate appearance of the work is achieved through the use of translucent porcelain arcs, with each arc individually moulded and fired in an electric kiln to 2400 degrees fahrenheit to achieve translucency. Paula Murray is one of Canada's leading contemporary craft artists. Living in Chelsea, Quebec, Murray has been a studio potter for more than twenty years.

On Top of the World

Title: On Top of the World
Artist: Jim Thomson (1953 - 2013)
Year: 1990
Materials: stoneware and concrete
Location: Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0363

To add a spirit of optimism to the place where people pay their municipal taxes, artist Jim Thomson proposed this statue in the entrance of the Client Service area of City Hall. The statue's reference various mythological traditions and thematically correspond to the two-metre high vases upon which they are placed. The turtle's home on his back represents his history, experience and wisdom, and relates to his perch of archeological fragments. The black dog is the Trickster who tries to trick us into learning. He is governed by the same strict and solid rules as is the vase upon which he stands. The jeweled bowl, perched on a spiral of pure energy, is an icon for the conquest of the spirit. The dog and the turtle both gaze at the bowl, which basks them in the notion that they will forever be positioned on top of the world. Jim Thomson studied art in Thailand, Japan and at the Banff Centre for the Arts.


Title: Outreach
Artist: Bruce Garner (1934-2012)
Year: 1985
Materials: bronze and steel
Location: South façade
Firestone Collection of Canadian Art

Abstract sculpture with large triangular metal branches extending from a central core on top of a building

The abstract forms of this 19.5 foot tall sculpture are a symbol of the extended reach given to humanity through our adoption of technology.  The large branches of the piece move outward and upward, emulating the growth afforded to humans by the use of technology. As if to caution us not to forget why technology develops, the branches are firmly attached to a central core, representing the strength of relationships between members of the human family.

Having worked primarily in metal and stone, sculptor Bruce Garner built uplifting monuments to action, physicality, and life. Garner taught himself to use much of the heavy machinery required to build outdoor sculptures and developed a distinctive hammer technique for shaping metal. Many of his most popular artworks can be found in Ottawa on Sparks Street, at the Conference Centre, and at the Ottawa General Hospital.

Rivers Reflecting Seasons

Title: Rivers Reflecting Seasons
Artist: Carole Sabiston
Year: 1990
Materials: multi synthetic fabric, machine bonded
Location: Keefer Room
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0360

This tapestry, located in the Keefer Room of the Heritage Building, conveys an impression of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau Rivers as portrayed on the Ottawa-Carleton regional flag and heraldic crest. The eleven panels, representing each of the previous municipalities of the region, evoke the movement and energy of the rivers and emulate the patterns of the furrowed fields. The material symbolizes the melding of silver and gold metallic to reflect the environmental elements of water, ice, snow and sun on the landscape through the seasons. Carole Sabiston, born in London, England, has lived in Victoria, British Columbia since 1952. She is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and 1987 winner of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Canada for Excellence in Art.

Sachi's Isochron

Title: Sachi’s Isochron
Artist: Warren Carther
Year: 1990
Materials: glass
Location: Rotunda
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0358

Sachi's Isochron, a permanent window installed high on the southwest rotunda wall, creates a mystical acknowledgement of time and date. The use of Dichroic glass enables the transformation of the daytime image of a yellow sun disk to a blue crescent at night. Also, twice a year at noon, a red triangular area is illuminated for an hour, marking the dates of the autumnal and vernal equinoxes. With the help of an astronomer, Warren Carther achieved this effect by attaching a mechanical device at the rear of the glass panel that aligns itself with the sun on the equinoxes. Carther received a BFA in glass blowing at the California College of Arts and Crafts, 1978. Having produced over 60 projects in his career to date, Warren Carther has installed permanent works in Japan, Hong Kong, France, Canada and the United States.


Title: Structure
Artist: Stephen Brathwaite
Year: 1989
Materials: glass,granite and steel
Location: Andrew S. Haydon Hall – Council Chambers
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0365

Photograph of the described sculpture.

For this particular piece, fragments of polished granite with cut and raw edges are being supported and united by a structure of steel. Located in Council Chambers as a backdrop to all City decisions, the work expresses the need for collaboration.  A figure cast in glass appears to be pushing part of the piece into place while another uses the support to climb on. The stone is a symbol of community and is divided into eleven fragments, representing the eleven amalgamated municipalities of Ottawa that vary in size, shape, and character. Though the stones do not fit together as a perfect whole, Structure acknowledges and applauds the effort given to keep the piece unified. Local glass artist, Stephen Brathwaite, has an extensive commission practice and is included in public, private, and corporate collections.  He has completed work for the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, the Canadian Pavilions in Spain and Korea, and at Strathcona Park, Ottawa.


Title: V.I.P. (Virtual Instrument Paradigm)
Artist: Michael Bussière
Year: 1996
Materials: concrete, speakers and electronic components
Location: Marion Dewar Plaza
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2001-0549

Made up of concrete towers housing speakers and electronic components, V.I.P. is the City of Ottawa's first computer-based artwork. V.I.P. may generate its own music or emit sound compositions activated by movement on the pathway. Developed by composer and innovator of electronic media Michael Bussière, this interactive installation combines sculptural forms designed and constructed by Mark West with surprising musical arrangements.  V.I.P. is an experiment in art that explores the potential of computer music and public performance.

Public art at Richcraft Recreation Complex - Kanata

Richcraft Recreation Complex – Kanata
4101 Innovation Drive
Ottawa, ON, K2K 0J3

Five distinct sculptures are permanently on display throughout the Richcraft Recreation Complex - Kanata and its grounds:

A Flat and a Box

Title: A Flat and a Box
Artists: Alisdair MacRae and Negar Seyfollahy
Year: 2013
Materials: granite and cement
Location: skate plaza
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2013-0082

A Flat and a Box has two main components: a flat area and a rectangular box. Skaters use the sculpture for many different tricks and approaches – the design accommodates beginner to expert skaters.

Artists Alisdair MacRae and Negar Seyfollahy worked directly with skaters, the Ottawa Skateboard Community Association and New Line Skateparks Inc. to design the sculpture. Dimensions and materials were influenced by these key groups. A Flat and a Box and the skate plaza opened to the public in July 2014.


Title: Chase
Artists: Erin Robertson and Anna Williams
Year: 2013
Materials: bronze and stainless steel
Location: seven sculptures at main entrance
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2013-0069

Chase is a sculptural installation in bronze, mapping the trail of a red fox chasing a ball. Chase captures the animal in gestural movements as though stopped in motion, offering the viewer a sustained gaze of something that usually unfolds too fast for the human eye to perceive.

Chase conveys athletic grace and beauty rooted in our fluid and ever changing connection to the natural world. This artwork encourages a closer and more active connection to art, animals, activity and our shared environments through the development of an ongoing interactive relationship with the piece.

Robertson and Williams use conceptual and visual elements to provide an energizing and lyrical addition to the space as it draws on the regional environment and the Complex's proximity to Trillium Woods.

The Gauntlet

Title: The Gauntlet
Artist: Marcus Kucey-Jones
Year: 2013
Materials: limestone
Location: East lawn near soccer field
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2014-0102

The Gauntlet is a large limestone carving made to resemble a hockey glove. The sculpture rests on a rectangular cement base. This sculpture is a result of a fundraising initiative by Councillor Wilkinson to create a sculpture park at the Richcraft Recreation Complex. The donor for this portion of the sculpture park is the Taggart Parkes Foundation.

Silver Line

Title: Silver Line
Artist: Maskull Lasserre
Year: 2013
Materials: stainless steel, aluminum, bronze and prefabricated components
Location: terrace, floor 2
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2013-0073

Silver Line draws inspiration from the patterned choreography of 'Cloud Hands', a t'ai chi movement which incorporates a rolling, sweeping motion of the arms and hands in a graceful gesture. The artwork is suggestive of weather phenomena, and makes reference to the human connection to nature that is expressed through recreational activity.

Silver Line is a three part installation consisting of a pair of binoculars, a cloud fabricated in aluminum and stainless steel, and a poised bronze female figure. The three sculptural components come into alignment when viewed through the binoculars. The cloud appears to float at the figure's fingertips, enveloped by the steam released from the building ventilation chimneys.


Title: Skiff
Artist: Jean-Yves Vigneau
Year: 2013
Materials: aluminum
Location: suspended above main lobby
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2013-0081

This sculptural installation was inspired by skiffs - long, slender boats with hulls so elongated that rowers balance themselves as though on a high wire. They speed forward so fast they barely touch the surface of the water. The long oars seem to walk on the water like the legs of a strange insect. Suspended above our heads in the lobby of the recreation complex, the two sculptures move across the space, evoking thoughts of water bugs and ying shes.

The artist was born on a small island and spent his childhood by the sea. The maritime landscape and culture forged his view of the world and continue to serve as the inspiration for his artistic practice.

Skiff was produced in collaboration with Forge ornementale Lapointe.

Public art at Rideau branch

Ottawa Public Library
377 Rideau Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 5Y6

One of the older libraries in the city, the Rideau branch displays a range of artworks from 1945 to 2015.

The Correspondence Series

The Correspondence Series

Title: The Correspondence Series
Artist: Adrian Göllner
Year: 2002
Materials: digital print on nylon
Location: four artworks on Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2002-0013

The Correspondence Series is a partial transcription of the correspondence between American President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Words and phrases have been transcribed into Morse Code. The resulting sequence of dots and dashes (red for Khrushchev's words; blue for Kennedy's) indicate something of the secrecy and tensions of the Cold War era. It should be noted that the syntax for Morse Coding has been strictly observed.

The Correspondence Series

This series was originally created for an exhibit in Norfolk, Virginia marking the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Originally trained in sculpture, Adrian Göllner has explored nearly every possible medium with his art. He has created artwork for the Embassy of Canada in Moscow and the Embassy of Canada in Berlin. Göllner's art is held in numerous public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canadian War Museum.

Emerald Boa

Emerald Boa

Title: Emerald Boa
Artist: José Mansilla-Miranda
Year: 1994
Materials: oil on canvas
Location: Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1995-0032

The Emerald Boa, Corallus caninus, is a non-venomous boa species of the Amazonian rain forest that can grow up to six feet in length (1.8 metres). The artist uses the boa as a symbol for Aboriginal cultures of the Americas. A biblical quotation in Latin is displayed above the boa: Prophetae Tui Videerunt Tibi Falsa et Stulta (Your own prophets have envisioned for you worthless and unsatisfying things). José Mansilla-Miranda is an established Ottawa-based artist who has exhibited his work extensively in North and South America as well as Europe. He is a Chilean-Canadian artist whose art reflects his cultural heritage. He applies political and religious symbols to compare the institutions of different cultures.

The Ghent Ensemble

The Ghent Ensemble

Title: The Ghent Ensemble
Artist: Evergon
Year: 1985
Materials: Polaroid on paper
Location: Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1986-0057

In the 1980s, Evergon worked extensively with Polaroid imagery. His oeuvre includes works ranging in size from small prints to large collages over 7 feet (213 cm) wide, such as this work, The Ghent Ensemble. Whether his subjects were inanimate objects or live models, the immediacy of the instant print allowed Evergon a level of spontaneity, control and interaction with his subject matter that was integral to his creative process. A celebrated photographer, Evergon was born in Niagara Falls and spent several decades in Ottawa, working and teaching at the University of Ottawa. Now based out of Montreal, he teaches photography at Concordia University and continues his own daring work. Dating back to his studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York in the early 1970s, Evergon has consistently used photography as an artistic medium. Since that time Evergon has achieved an international reputation as an artist and teacher, especially for his use of an extensive range of traditional and innovative photographic techniques. These range from exploration of long-neglected historical printing techniques through his pioneering use of colour photocopying, Polaroid photography and holography. Evergon has an extensive national and international exhibition history and his work represents a prolific 40 year career.

Hell and Highwater

Hell and Highwater

Title: Hell and Highwater (right)
Artist: Blair Sharpe
Year: 1985
Materials: acrylic on canvas
Location: Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1988-0027
Blair Sharpe is dedicated to the principles of abstract art. He is interested in the flatness of the canvas' surface and the shape, line, and colour of paint. He draws his inspiration from momentum, presence, and the grandeur of nature. Sharpe refers to the dynamism of water through line and shape, and uses thick texture for the restlessness of waves. He contrasts this with a flat, dark, and foreboding surface pierced with bright red and purple pigments. This contrast of opposing surface, line, and colour together produces compositional stability. The title, Hell and Highwater, reinforces this idea of stability in the face of disorder and distress. Educated in England, Germany, and Canada, Sharpe teaches at the Ottawa School of Art.



Title: Lattice
Artist: Mark Thompson
Year: 2015
Materials: LED, glass, steel
Location: Rideau Street
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 2015-0185
In front of the Rideau branch, many colours of Lattice represent interconnected knowledge. Strips of glass housed inside the artwork are lit by pre-programmed lights. The lights slowly change colour and intensity causing shifts in perception as we travel around the object. At night, the sculpture transforms the streetscape and expands our sensory experience. Light is paramount to the work of Mark Thompson. He is interested in the way glass refracts light and how the eye perceives it. Mark Thompson has worked with light using contemporary and traditional studio glass-working techniques for over 30 years. Lattice is part of Cube, Lattice, Sphere, Wave, a set of four sculptures along Rideau Street that explore how we perceive colour, light and motion.

Marie-Rose Turcot

Marie-Rose Turcot

Title: Marie-Rose Turcot
Artist: Raymonde Gravel
Year: 1945
Materials: copy of an original painting
Location: Foyer
Ottawa Public Library: Gift from Library and Archives Canada
Born in Laurierville, Quebec, Marie-Rose Turcot (1887-1977) moved to Ottawa around the age of 20 to work in the civil service. Later, working as a journalist, she published in the daily newspaper Le Droit, as well as in several other weekly and daily publications in Ottawa and Montreal, sometimes using the pseudonym Constance Bayard. She also worked in broadcast journalism for the French radio station CKCH in Hull, Quebec. Turcot was the author of a novel, several collections of short stories, and poems, and was a pioneer in collecting and publishing Franco-Ontarian folk tales. She was active in a number of French-Canadian cultural organizations in Ottawa, including Le Caveau, as well as in professional associations. She lived in Ottawa for most of her life, and died in Orléans.

A plaque from the Ontario Heritage Foundation commemorating the life of Marie-Rose Turcot is permanently located in front of Rideau branch. The painter of her portrait, Raymonde Gravel, was born in Montreal in 1913. She studied in both the US and France.

Pacific Series 2: Tshawytscha

Pacific Series 2: Tshawytscha

Title: Pacific Series 2: Tshawytscha (left)
Artist: Blair Sharpe
Year: 1986
Materials: acrylic on canvas
Location: Floor 1
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1988-0061

Much like "Hell and Highwater" (right) this painting employs the principles of abstract art. Blair Sharpe creates tension between formal structure and spontaneous gesture. He is interested in the flatness of his surface and the shape, line, and colour of paint. There is a profound affinity to nature in this painting. Blair Sharpe uses the triangular motif to represent specifies of fish. Tshawytscha is a name used for a variety of Pacific salmon. Born in Montreal in 1954, Blair Sharpe's early life can best be described as nomadic, moving across Canada and overseas, before settling in Ottawa in 1973. Sharpe has exhibited widely, with numerous solo shows in Ottawa and Toronto, including a major mid-career survey at the Ottawa Art Gallery in 1989 as well as group shows across Canada and abroad. His work is represented in many collections. His public art commissions in Ottawa include the mural "Ouananiche" at the Jack Purcell Community Centre and "River's Invitation" at the Smyth Transitway Station.

Stripes and Moons Triangle

Stripes and Moons Triangle

Title: Stripes and Moons Triangle
Artist: John Ikeda
Year: 1983
Materials: ceramic
Location: Foyer
City of Ottawa Art Collection: 1986-0057
John Ikeda is an internationally recognized ceramic artist known for his work with modern shapes and vibrant colours. His early childhood memories firmly established his aspirations for truth, beauty and simplicity in life and art. Born in Lethbridge (Alberta), his Japanese Canadian family suffered the consequences of internment and displacement in the 1940s. He currently lives near Ottawa in St. Bernardin (Ontario) and is inspired by the rural landscape and quiet lifestyle of the country. Ikeda has a BA from the University of Lethbridge, where he studied fine arts. His works can be found in the collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.