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Water Guardians

Water Guardians by Susan Point

Artist: Susan Point
Location: Hazelgrove Park (7080 190 Street)
Category: Civic collection
Year: 2016

About Water Guardians

Resembling a large red umbrella, the sculpture Water Guardians can be found on top of a low grassy mound in Hazelgrove Park, East Clayton’s newest park. It playfully responds to the theme of water and the design of the park which features a water play area, a Metro water reservoir and City pump station, and a bioswale (an open vegetated channel designed to naturally cleanse and filter stormwater runoff).

The focal point of the artwork is the vibrant red canopy, symbolic of a water lily. Made of aluminum, it stretches 3 metres across, with a 3.6 metre long stainless steel pipe attached to it that forms the umbrella handle. Four stylized frogs done in pierced metalwork sit on this “lily pad,” which one can see when standing underneath the canopy. All design elements are created from Coast Salish iconography in a form that represents the past, present, and future. Point explains:

I have lived my whole life, as well as my ancestors for thousands of years before me, in a territory renowned for its abundant natural beauty including lakes, rivers, and the Salish Sea. If I am not fishing, or beachcombing, or watching frogs from the shoreline of a pond, I am imagining the world through the eyes of the aquatic creatures that have survived here since time immemorial. One of my favourite creatures is a frog. I’ve never lost the captivation of watching them develop from tadpoles, and I don't think anyone really does.

Point’s use of smiling frogs and tadpole motifs indicate the continuance of life and transformation from small beginnings. Frogs also symbolize the rhythm of the land. Songs sung by frogs have always been the indicators of the changing seasons to First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest. In Water Guardians, the frogs are welcoming the rain that fall through the holes of the umbrella as rain ensures their survival.

About the Artist

Susan Point is a descendant of the Musqueam people. Her striking and distinctive art in the Coast Salish tradition has achieved worldwide acclaim. An innovator with a strong personal style, she expresses both ancestral concepts and contemporary concerns in new mediums such as glass, paper, bronze and steel, as well as more traditional wood. Point is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has been presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada.

Her other public artwork in Surrey is Frogs.