Monday, 23 September 2013

A Visit to Samuel de Champlain

Last week, I visited an art installation at Nepean Point, behind the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, that celebrated the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's journey to the area.  In the past, I have climbed the hill at Nepean Point many times to enjoy the wonderful view of Ottawa/Gatineau from the top and see the sculpture of Champlain. But the installation I visited last week allowed a whole different experience of the sculpture. There was a staircase that led up to a platform where one could walk around Champlain and see him "eye to eye".

People couldn't actually touch him, but it was amazing how different the experience of the sculpture was, being on the same level.

There was a metal grid-work structure that circled the platform where there were special computerized lights for a lightshow, which would be shown in the evening. I was intrigued by the plastic cases over the lights.   

While I was walking around the platform, I saw this man doing some maintenance work on the lights. I asked if he minded having his picture taken and he said "No problem - I am used to it." What a job! There was nothing to stop him if he fell and it was a looonnnnngggg way down. But he was perfectly relaxed about it.

Being this close to the sculpture allowed one to see a lot of details. For example, the name of the sculptor, Hamilton MacCarthy, is shown here on the base. MacCarthy made the sculpture in 1915. Since there are no known portraits of Champlain, MacCarthy used the face of a Canadian historian, Benjamin Sulte, for Champlain's face. (These facts were posted on various signs around the platform.)  

It really was fun taking pictures from all different angles. Love the cape!

The sky cleared and I got this nice shot of Champlain against the blue. I read somewhere that the astrolabe he is holding is actually upside-down. Whoops!

At seven in the evening, the staircase to climb up to the platform was closed in preparation for the lightshow. I went to see the lightshow the evening before, but I couldn't get any good photos of it. But I did get this one shot of the installation in the dusk, with Champlain silhouetted against the darkening sky. Cool!  

1 comment:

Sarah said...

What a cool idea! Great photos, too.