SPI in Bloom

Over the two years of rethinking, revitalizing and replanting St. Patrick’s Island, the diverse habitat of Calgary’s 31 acres of new urban nature has been flourishing. Now an entirely new type of bloom is blossoming on the island. A really, really big Bloom.

Bloom – a monumental sculpture by Canadian artist Michel de Broin – has been newly installed on St. Patrick’s Island, and is already defining the landscape in a very memorable way. The third permanent public art installation to be commissioned by CMLC’s Art in the Public Realm program, Bloom is a towering sculpture of asymmetrically-arranged streetlights that tells a story of both the physical growth of new flora and also the metaphorical blooming of the once-neglected island park.

Visible from any point on the island, the 23-metre sculpture will act as a natural meeting place the island opens to the public at the end of July. The soft ambient glow from Bloom’s whimsical streetlight flowers will serve as a centre-point of SPI’s pathway system. The playful juxtaposition of streetlights repurposed as flowers speaks to the unique interaction between the island’s natural elements and the urban cityscape that surrounds it.

The installation of Bloom onto St. Patrick’s Island was as monumental as the sculpture itself. Fabricated at Lafontaine IronWerks in Penetang, Ontario, the sculpture’s component parts (six street lights, three legs, a polyhedron and a foundation) were shipped into Calgary via transport truck. And that was the easy part. With the heaviest piece weighing in at 2,700 kg and the total weight tipping the scales at 8,150 kg (about 18,000 lbs), wrangling Bloom into place was no small feat. 

An installation crew used two cranes and a 25-metre articulating man-lift to hoist the massive pieces into place onto a stable sub-surface foundation and then fasten the components with structural bolts. The Mighty Machine manoeuvers fascinated viewers watching from the George C. King Bridge deck for hours on end.

Bloom will be ready for its close-up when St. Patrick’s Island celebrates its Grand Reopening at the end of July. Until then, be sure to check out EV’s newest permanent public art installation from George C. King Bridge. You can’t miss it.