Another of the permanent artworks on Elbow Island takes the form of a rock ford – essentially, stepping stones to help visitors cross a secondary channel of water. Before the project, this ephemeral stream was dry except during high-flow months. After the project, the stream will flow all year round, and visitors will be able to cross the stream using stepping stones.
The rock ford, initially proposed by the City River team, creates an opportunity for artists to impact the shape of the stepping stones.
Lead artist Lane Shordee guided this design, thinking about the relationship between the pathway, the river, and people navigating space.
As you move south on the island, you’ll find a stepping stone pathway book-ended by two large boulders. Chunks have been carved out of the boulders, providing a perch to rest above the flowing waters. Each boulder faces a different direction, giving viewers two unique experiences. In one direction, the water flows away; in the other, water flows towards.
The stones represent our species’ relationship with the land as witnesses and stewards. When viewing the landscape in different ways, we consider its inevitable transformation. Over time these boulders will shift; making them, and our relationship to the land, more challenging to sit on.
The stepping stones will feature a textual artwork inscribed into the rock, titled Things that both a relative you haven’t seen in a long time and the river could say by Kablusiak. Based on the idea that water holds memory, the artist draws attention to the shared histories between humans and water.
Emerging from time spent in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk when Kablusiak returned to those lands after a 20 year separation, the texts were translated into Inuvialuktun by the artist’s mother Holly Carpenter. The phrases, though personal, offer space to include the collective experience of sometimes complex familial relations.