Thinking Like the River
Suzanne Northcott's topographical artwork of Surrey surrounds the 1st floor windows of City Hall.
Artist: Suzanne Northcott
Location: 1st Floor Meeting Room Windows of City Hall (13450 104 Avenue)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: 2014
About Thinking Like the River
The windows of City Hall’s first floor meeting rooms host a glazing artwork that shows Surrey as a place engaged with its rivers: The Fraser River forming its north border, and the Serpentine, Nicomekl, and Campbell rivers feeding into the Pacific Ocean. Northcott’s design, fabricated as a film applied to the exterior windows, maps the City of Surrey to scale within its larger surroundings—the Fraser Valley to the east and Georgia Strait to the west.
A layer of stones, smoothed by the ocean at Crescent Beach, ground the piece at pedestrian eye level and connect the artwork with the lower edge of the slate waterfall feature of City Hall. The grass, photographed along the bank of the Nicomekl River, depicts the wildness of untended edges of roads and rivers in urban settings. From there lies the grid of Surrey situated on a topographical map of mountains, rivers, and parks. The ripples in the topography and the bend in the City grid echo the flow of the river.
Northcott says, “Our relationship to the river reveals our sense of connectivity; we know that caring for the river is caring for ourselves. No single view defines this piece—everything changes with light and activity and point of view. It is a process, like the river.”
About the Artist
Suzanne Northcott is an interdisciplinary artist working with installation, video, painting, and drawing. She is a sought-after lecturer and instructor and has spoken at UBC, Capilano University, York University, Trinity Western University, and the Langley Fine Arts School. Publications include White Album (Innana Publications), a volume of Northcott’s paintings and Rishma Dunlop’s poetry launched in 2009.