Soundscapes in the Landscape

In September 2021, Elbow Island hosted A Wandering Weekend, our first public event inviting visitors to explore The Wandering Island, learn more about the artworks and habitat, participate in a blessing, and listen to soundscapes in the landscape.

Thank you to our project photographer, Mike Tan, for beautiful documentation.

Visiting stepping stones by Kablusiak

In the morning, visitors wandered the island at their own pace. Guides were placed throughout the park (like docents in a gallery), prepared to speak to different elements of the island – from the artworks, to flood mitigation and fish habitat, to public art in the city of Calgary.

Some of the artists (including Jeremy Pavka, Lane Shordee, Caitlind Brown, and Wayne Garrett) joined us onsite to speak directly to the community about their works.

Stairs by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett
Visitors crossing the rock ford, with stepping stones by Kablusiak and stone seats by Lane Shordee

In the afternoon, Elder Pablo Russell shared a blessing for the island. He reminded us to listen to the plants and consider the timescale of the land, before sharing a song with visitors on the island.

Local musicians Jennifer Crighton, Sarah Houle & Shane Ghostkeeper, and Who Cares? (Laura Reid & Jiajia Li) created Soundscapes in the Landscape, performing improvised musical sets in collaboration with the island itself. Audiences wandered the island as musicians played, moving into and out of phonic soundscapes as they walked.

Jennifer Crighton, playing her harp in the ephemeral side channel

Jennifer Crighton waded through the river, twinkling her harp. At one point, we slid into the soundscape of Who Cares? in a brief, spatial collaboration, before drifting along.

Who Cares? playing on ladders in the island foliage

Who Cares? began their experimental classical performance perched on ladders, situated in the foliage just off the pathway on Elbow Island. As the performance unfolded, they began to traverse the landscape while playing – in recognition of the wandering nature of the event.

Closer to the mouth of the island, Sarah Houle & Shane Ghostkeeper used the archway under Mission Bridge to amplify their instruments.

Viewers watched their performance from the banks and island side-channel, peering under the historic 1915 bridge to hear the duos’ improvised soundscape as it resonated against the found architecture.

A Wandering Weekend ended with a bike-in screening in nearby Roxboro Park, featuring short films by project filmmaker Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi. The screening highlighted six mini-documentaries about the process of conceiving, designing, and building The Wandering Island – one artwork at a time.

You can watch Ramin’s films online here.

As visitors were settling on their blankets and lawn chairs, a slideshow of photos by our project photographer Mike Tan looped on the screen. Ramin and Mike hosted a Q&A after the screening.

All photos by Mike Tan.

Thank you to everyone who attended A Wandering Weekend!

Special thanks to our Wandering Guides (Jon, Jeremy, Jen, and Jaci), the musicians (Jennifer, Sarah & Shane, Laura & Jiajia), our amazing documentarians (Ramin, Mike, and Kara), the artists (Kablusiak, Susan & Joel, Jeremy & Sean, Laura & Michael), the neighbours (particularly Stephen & Caroline, Bob & Cynthia, Evan, Zev, and the Ward 9 crew), our Elder Pablo & Rio, The Mohkinstsis Guiding Circle and Jessica McMann, and to Brenda, Cayley, and Binder Productions for their guidance and work on the park screening.

This project would not be possible without an amazing crew of folks at Calgary Public Art: Jennifer, Jaci, Heather, Randy, Rowena, Alex, Sophia, and more. Thanks to our City of Calgary colleagues, especially Jon and Penelope. Gratitude to all the fabricators, engineers, and landscapers who have worked on this project to date, especially Year Round Landscaping, Lex3, Matrix Solutions, JAG Industries, and more. For a more complete list of credits, look here.

These lands hold us, and it’s with deep gratitude that we acknowledge the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. Please read our full Land Acknowledgement.

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