Opening of the Fish Ladders

Public Art - Canada Line Station - Jim Breukelman - Fish Ladder Salmon in the CapilanoA nice time was had by all at the reception for Jim Breukelman to celebrate the completion of his City of Vancouver public art commission for the Canada Line City Centre station. An image on the wall of “Fish Ladder: Salmon on the Capilano” is shown in the background of the photo of the artist and Canada Line Public Art Program Director Janice Fairley. 

Jim took on the challenges of short timelines and the dictates of public safety for transparency and made the contingencies of the situation work for him.  He has drawn from a series of underwater photographs in which the salmon are silhouetted against the densely aerated and turbulent water.  The animation of the fish near the surface is contrasted with the dark depths beneath. He has set these photographs into the transparent/translucent frame that is the fish ladder – the site of the final life struggle up the river for the fish. 

The frame was the challenge, to provide something that would give overall structure to the concept and provide enough transparency for issues of safety. In some lights, the frame glistens and dances with movement that adds to the animation of piece as a whole. The piece manages to capture the vitality of this icon of coastal wildlife in the centre of the city.

Typical of the artist’s humourous angle on life, he says “ I like the whimsical idea of this piece being placed on the Canada Line entrance because the site houses a set of escalators, whose purpose is not unlike that of a fish ladder.”

Jim Breukelman is well-known for his studies of various idiosyncracies of human life such as domestic bungalows, a paint ball park, taxidermy and the utopian Biosphere 2 project in Arizona. He is the former Head of the Department of Photography and Dean of Media Arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. His work has been shown extensively and most recently in Builders, the 2012 Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada. He received a Mayor’s Arts Award in Visual Art from the City of Vancouver in 2012. His work is also included in a series of postage stamps from Canada Post honouring Canadian photographers, released March 22, 2013.

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