During the summer months, Calgarians have the unique opportunity to quench their thirst with water fountains conceived and designed by artists – an excellent example of how the City is using public art to its full potential.
Designed by WATERSHED+ lead artists Sans façon, the Fire Hydrant Water Fountain Project is an example of applying creative thinking and a creative process to practical problems – a means of using public art to address civic challenges and enhance our communities.
These fountains, with their workings exposed and three distinct characters, encourage us as citizens to gather publicly around the most basic of human needs, and to celebrate and raise our consciousness around our relationship to water. The fountains themselves are the vehicles or stage, the ‘art’ is only really created through citizens enacting and engaging with them.
The three fountains – “Strangers”, “Family” and “Group” impose different formations of gathering around water. “Strangers” sees two individuals (and their dogs) drinking face to face – at a distance quite a bit closer than we would typically choose to be with a stranger, increasing awareness of one another. “Family” has the bubblers lined up at different heights, much in much the same way as a family might in a family photograph, and “Group” has drinkers huddled together at different heights and arrangements. While the formations themselves reflect typically groupings in our society, it is interesting to think of the effect of the formation on individuals who are not a part of such a group in real life – i.e. strangers using the Family fountain at the same time.
The FHWF project represents the first key pilot initiative to be realized through the WATERSHED+ Lead Artist Pilot Program. This visionary new program presents a unique approach to public art and a distinct way of having artists work within The City, with the public and with community stakeholders. Sans facon, the lead artist team working on the pilot program, is currently embedded within UEP core activities, participating as members of infrastructure design teams and contributing to project design, development of events, community education and communication initiatives.
Learn more at www.watershedplus.ca.
Sans façon, the artists responsible for the fountains, have a personal interest in how people engage with their environments and how citizens understand the processes afoot all around us. How through the slightest intervention people can become intrigued and excited about phenomena around them which may have, until that moment, been missed, hidden or misunderstood.Sans façon began as an investigation between French architect Charles Blanc and British artist Tristan Surtees and has developed into an ongoing, collaborative art practice. They undertake diverse projects, both temporary and permanent, and through their public art practice, explore the relationship between people and place.