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The Moment

The Moment rendering by Studio Morison

Artist: Studio Morison (Ivan Morison and Heather Peak)
Location: Clayton Community Centre (72 Avenue between 184 and 188 Streets)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: Coming in 2020 to coincide with building opening

About The Moment

Known for their socially engaged art practice around the world, Studio Morison has wrapped up three months of research and community engagement with over 300 locals. Out of this work came their proposal for an iconic sculpture for the future Clayton Community Centre titled The Moment, approved by council on May 28, 2018.

The title comes from a Margaret Atwood poem (see below) that questions individual ownership and speaks to the concept of “the commons” at the heart of the Clayton Community Centre and civic life in general. In a time of increasingly privatized land, how do we hold a space in common that everybody can use and enjoy?

This artwork for the people of Clayton came from interacting with its people: residents at the dog park, parents at a parents and kids drop in, seniors at a recreation centre, teachers at SFU, youth at Clayton Heights Secondary and Clayton Heights Activity Team (CHAT), and many others. Residents shared their reflections on their neighbourhood, as well as their aspirations for a public artwork to capture the place they call home.

Studio Morison’s extensive community engagement culminated in The Impossible Rainbow Dinner at Clayton Heights Secondary School on April 13, 2018. The artists collaborated with approximately 90 students from the high school to make 120 pieces of crockery (bowls, plates, cups) from moulds of an old softball and deflated basketball found on the site of the future Clayton Community Centre. The students transformed discarded objects into something functional and beautiful, demonstrating the power of art to transform our everyday lives. Studio Morison also worked with at-risk youth from CHAT to paint the tablecloths for the dinner. Sixty-five people attended the dinner including youth and their families, residents, local stakeholders, seniors, arts advocates, and people encountered through the research. Attendees gave feedback about the future public artwork. One person wrote, “Please make something to bring us together like this.”

That’s exactly what The Moment is about—bringing people of all backgrounds together in a shared space, allowing for different levels of engagement, creating an open form that can be transformed in beautiful, multiple, and unexpected ways.

Made of steel and standing over six metres tall, The Moment loosely alludes to gathering spaces like pavilions, bandstands, potlaches, and agoras. Comprised of straight and curved lines coloured a bright raspberry to stand out against the trees, the artwork is a frame in which anything can happen. It could be a place to make art, meet friends, and transform for events. It could be draped with fabric to provide a summer reading space, strung with lights and garlands for an open mic music evening, or transformed with LED lights into a glowing lantern, to name a few of the possibilities. In short, it is a place for the community to make meaningful moments of their own.

The form itself invites the question: what is it? The artists say, “As you move around and within the piece, it continually reveals and confuses its own form, alive and full of potentiality.” From each angle, a different interpretation emerges: a net, a web, a flower turning its head to the sun, a make-believe creature waiting to play with a friend, a tower leaning over to listen to the people below. It is an outline to “colour in,” inviting the community to fill it with their own imaginations.

The Moment by Margaret Atwood

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

About the Artist

Studio Morison founders Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have worked together since 2003. They describe their practice as one that transcends the divisions between art, architecture, and theatre. They have produced public art all over the world, including for Vancouver Art Gallery, Tate Modern (London), and Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney). They are currently working on projects in Holland, Munich, and Liverpool. On a societal level, Studio Morison is working to re-establish aspects of civic life. On a human level, they look to bring meaning, beauty, and purpose into everyday life. Both poetic and practical, their pieces are often both a beautiful sculpture as well as a usable public and civic space.