Burlington has a long history of sports excellence, on both an amateur and professional level. A new public art project is being planned to celebrate this history. The Spirit of Sport public art project will be installed at the following facilities: Mainway Recreation Centre, Nelson Arena and Brant Hills Community Centre.
A community jury selected three finalists to develop preliminary artwork concepts. Now we need your feedback. Please review the three proposed designs and tell us what you think. Your comments, along with the technical and design proposals will inform the jury’s final selection.
An email comment form can be found at the bottom of this page. Comments can also be submitted in person at Mainway, Nelson and Brant Hills from February 17 – March 3.
Sport is the most democratic activity in the world. While we all know of the great iconic sports figures found everywhere in the media, the three fields and facilities in Burlington where these art projects will be located are here for all to enjoy.
Whether it’s a father coaching his kids, two girlfriends running together or a group playing wheelchair basketball, the camaraderie and sheer joy that come from improving our skills belongs to everyone. At a time when most of us spend long hours sitting in front of a computer, facilities like these are vital in maintaining life’s balance.
The goal of our design is to create highly visible, playful, landmark series of works communicating the goals of inclusiveness, togetherness, play and fearlessness. Our work is addressed first and foremost to the local community, especially youth. The aesthetics comes from graffiti/street art, and children’s drawings, where an idea is often given a surprising visual synthesis, unimpeded by self-consciousness. We purposefully stayed away from the tired corporate visual vocabulary and responded to the RFP in and way that will give the three sports facilities their own unique stamp, unlike any other.
Our three projects allude to the act of thinking – or dreaming about sports we love: heads ‘full’ of the game, being outdoors, playing together. We chose to position them on buildings, crowning each one at the entrance. The work, which will be light and weatherproof, will be securely affixed to the building with public safety being paramount. The positioning of the three artworks high on the buildings’ façades will give them high visibility while making it resistant to theft and vandalism. The required maintenance will be minimal.
To honour this Spirit of Sport, red, ribbon-like sculptures will celebrate active living and inclusive community participation, while engaging and welcoming the public to the recreation centres.
Celebrating the combination of balance, strength and co-ordination required in sports, the red ribbon sculptures are an exploration of space and movement. The red ribbons reflect key components of many activities, such as the flowing rhythm of gymnastics; the curved, red stitching on a baseball; the goal line in hockey; and the finish line in track and field, among others.
The fluttering ribbon is a perfect form for these sculptures, having long been associated with sporting excellence; whether being used to support medals won at competitive events, or as a means of celebrating participation in community activities, such as awareness walks for issues like breast cancer.
The association with medals is particularly relevant given the City of Burlington’s rich history of sporting innovation, which includes: Dr. Frank Hayden, founder of the International Special Olympics Movement; Melville Marks Robinson, founder of the Commonwealth Games; along with numerous Olympic athletes and coaches, including Melanie Booth (soccer) and Angela Coughlan (swimming).
The rolling ribbon also celebrates a heart-healthy, active lifestyle, calling to mind the visualization of a heartbeat on an EKG machine. The red colour represents the circulation of oxygenated blood, reminding us that regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, we all benefit from active physical and social participation.
What is the Spirit of Sport? It is the expression of our highest aspirations. It is the moments, both great and small, lived on the fields, ponds, courts, and in the minds of our community. We can participate at any level and feel the exhilaration of winning and the humility of losing a well-played game. Our emotions rise and fall as parents on the sidelines and as city or nation watching our representative athletes.
In Burlington, we are fortunate to have many opportunities to pursue sport as play—non-competitively, competitively and professionally. It is in these moments, big and small, when we use our bodies, minds and our hearts, that we are part of something larger: the universal joy of movement and striving for something better.
It is with profound gratefulness as a Burlington resident, artist and “sport mom” that I propose these three mural projects that represent the Spirit of Sport, from the small moments found in our own backyards to the world stage.
The mural “Pick up game on Sunfish Pond,” proposed for Nelson Recreation Centre, speaks to those small moments spent with family and friends—moments that are unorganized, spontaneous and joyful. “Up and Away,” proposed for Mainway Recreation Centre, pays homage to the community of people who support and lift each other up to reach their goals. “What Dreams May Come,” proposed for Brant Hills Community Centre, represents the history of sport in Burlington and the heroes that inspire future athletes.
Sport is about competition. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Often the effort put forth determines the outcome, but sometimes not. Sport is also about play—the pure joy of physical exertion and the pure beauty of sportsmanship. We are not all Olympic athletes but we can all be, in some way, as great as they are. What we learn in pursuit of the Spirit of Sport strengthens not only our bodies but also our minds and our community.
Use the comment form below to submit your feedback. All comments will remain anonymous and will be used to inform the jury’s final artwork selection.