Mar 26

A Wonderland You Can Wander Through

by Downtown Calgary · 1 comment

wonderland-statue-downtown-calgary

This is a post by guest blogger Brandon Beasley. He’s an arts & culture junky living in Calgary. If you’re interested in blogging for GetDown, learn how here.

Calgary’s newest piece of public art fascinates and enchants

Have you ever wanted to get inside someone else’s head? Juame Plensa’s Wonderland sculpture outside of the Bow building (corner of 6th avenue & Centre street) will let you do just that. A wireframe head of white twisted metal, Wonderland has openings on either side of the “neck” for you to walk inside. It is a piece of art not just to look at, but to interact with and experience. It is downtown Calgary’s newest and most interesting piece of public art.

It’s also another way in which our city is putting itself on the map with world-class art and architecture. Santiago Calatrava’s Peace Bridge is celebrating its first anniversary, the Bow itself was designed by the renowned Norman Foster, and now Wonderland is the latest bold aesthetic gesture to grace our downtown.

Rendering a young girl’s head into a 12-metre tall bust, Plensa’s monumental artwork casts its serene gaze out onto our city. On first glimpse you see only a disembodied and ghostly figure seeming to float above the pavement. Because you can see through to the building behind, it almost doesn’t seem real. The metal frame becomes solid as you approach, but the head itself retains a kind of there/not-there otherworldliness.

wonderland-statue-downtown-calgary2

As you step inside, you are enveloped by the sculpture, becoming part of its world and seeing through its eyes. It shows you how the city is both outside of and within you; though external to you, it gets inside you too, as if you had the pores of Wonderland’s wire frame. Like the city, the sculpture is a wonderland that you can wander through.

Wonderland has quickly become a beloved landmark. Even on a quiet weekend afternoon you will find a constant stream of curious onlookers, many of them children bouncing with excitement, their parents taking a picture of them standing inside. It was also the site of Calgary’s contribution to the “Harlem Shake” viral video phenomenon.

Public art like this is sure to draw people to Calgary’s downtown, showing the world that we are a metropolis that is creating a vibrant and compelling city centre.

A wonderland, if you will.

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