Wandering Island Postcard Front

…ultimately everything, nature and culture as well, and thus man and his habitat, are connected in an infinite, diverse systems of relationships.

  • Edgar Morin, Sustainability Theorist

The Wandering Island is a site-specific project conceived for Elbow Island, a Calgary/Mohkínstsis park located beneath 4th Street Bridge, balancing precariously between city + nature, land + river, public + private, camouflaged + forgotten. The Wandering Island has a mandate to create slow art for the audience of birds, bats, beaver, fish, and the occasional curious wanderer.

This project is guided by local artists Lane Shordee, Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett. The Wandering Island is a City of Calgary Public Art and Utilities & Environmental Protection Department Project, funded through the 1% For Art Policy.

Part 1 Permanent

In 2020, several ‘permanent’ artworks will be installed in Elbow Island Park, integrated into onsite infrastructure. The stairs leading down to the island will be widened to become a sculptural entry-point. Walking trails will guide wanderers to artistic stepping stones, allowing passage to the remarkably wild, inner-island bushland. Benches designed by artist teams will offer spaces to sit and reflect, watching the river. You can read more about the artists here.

Part 2 Seasonal

Ecosystems are dependent upon decay and decomposition as much as they are on growth, and in fact need both in equal measure… the notion of deliberate decay [is] as an acknowledgement of the vital role that it plays in all of our ecosystems.

  • Chris Manderson, Urban Conservation Lead at Calgary Parks

In an ideal situation, from 2020 to 2022, seasonal programming will occur in Elbow Island Park. 1 – 3 artists per season will be invited to interact with the space through a variety of disciplines, creating site-specific work for and about the island as a biological, social, spatial, mythical, cultural, historical, and conceptual context. Artists are challenged to experiment, use materials found onsite, and be conscientious of their impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

Part 3 documentary

Throughout the process, a filmmaker, a photographer, and two writers will document The Wandering Island, creating a diverse archive of images and thoughts to supplement the real-time experience of the space. These documentarians will gently challenge the silent voice of Public Art in Calgary, creating another access point for communities to learn about the project and the island itself. This website is another aspect of documentation for The Wandering Island, and the hub for films, photos, and writing.

The Wandering Island is situated on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 in Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. It is our pleasure and privilege to share this landscape together. Please see the Land Acknowledgement.