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Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Sculpture on the Gorge

On my run today I managed to come across a new statue on the Gorge waterway near Tillicum Bridge.
After a little bit of reserch I came across this article in the Saanich News.

By Keith Vass - Saanich News
Published: April 21, 2010 6:00 AM

He lives just two blocks from the Tillicum Road bridge over the Gorge, but Fred Dobbs had never heard the legend of Camossung.

The rock that only appears beneath the bridge at ebb tide looms large in Songhees legend.

"It struck me, here was a story that was maybe washing away with the tide," said Dobbs, who was chosen to create a new piece of public art to be unveiled this weekend.

Camossung was a young girl who was turned to stone by Hayls the Transformer as she sat by the reversing falls, where salt water mixes with fresh when the tides shift, and where the bridge now stands.

In the legend, Hayls find the girl crying at the waters edge, she explains that her father is angry and won't give her food. Hayls offers her different kinds of food -- the ones she refused were cast away and can't be found here.

The ones she accepted -- ducks, herring, coho and oysters -- stayed here and Camossung became the guardian of food for her people.

But Dobbs hadn't heard her name until it appeared in a contest description for a Saanich public art project.

So he began to learn, meeting with the Songhees' chief and council, and Royal B.C. Museum curator of archaeology Grant Keddie. Dobbs' new sculpture, being unveiled at Gorge Waterway park on Saturday, is a welcome addition to a growing body of public art around the region.

Keddie has been pushing for more visual markers of First Nations history since he came to Victoria more than three decades ago.

"That statue will actually be on top of an archaeological site," he said, noting evidence shows a shell midden at least 1,000 years old marking a village site.

Dobbs' sculpture shows Camossung at the moment of transformation -- her back turning to stone while she kneels at the water's edge, surrounded by bufflehead ducks, coho, oysters and eelgrass.

He's pleased the public unveiling is happening just two days after Earth Day.

The sculpture, like the figure of Camossung, is a reminder of our responsibility to protect the Gorge waterway, which has slowly been improving after decades of neglect and pollution, he said.

"To me, it represents … kind of a rebirth."

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