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Mount Pleasant Fire Station 7 Public Art Project

We have commissioned artist Jennifer Stead to create site-specific artwork for the new Mount Pleasant Fire Station #7, providing a connection between the Calgary Fire Department and the citizens they serve.

The Mount Pleasant Fire Station is being rebuilt at 2708 Fourth St. N.W. and will provide better emergency services to the community. This station serves the communities of Bridgeland/Riverside, Cambrian Heights, Captial Hill, Crescent Heights, Collingwood, Greenview, Highland Park, Highwood, Hillhurst, McCall, Mount Pleasant, North Haven, Renfrew, Rosedale, Rosemont, Skyline West, Sunnyside, Thorncliffe, Tuxedo Park, Queens Park Village, and Winston Heights as well as the Greenview Industrial Park.

Public Art Budget ​$63,000
Year Approved ​2015
​Artist ​Jennifer Stead
​​Expected Completion ​2017


Water, by Jennifer Stead
Water, by Jennifer Stead

Jennifer Stead is an artist from Ottawa, Ontario. She received her Bachelor's in Fine Arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and was a resident at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She has an Arts Education degree from McGill University and a Master's in Fine Arts from the University of Calgary.

Short Story, by Jennifer Stead
Short Story, by Jennifer Stead

Her work is represented in various private, public, and corporate collections nationally and she has been the recipient of many provincial and federal arts grants. Her practice, while based in drawing and painting, includes large public art pieces that engage with her love of the landscape and connection to the specifics of place.

Jennifer Stead is mentoring and working with artist, Patricia Lortie. Patricia Lortie is a Calgary visual artist with a varied practice. She is a painter, sculptor, public artist, an art instructor and is involved in arts organizations. Her work speaks of entanglement and she is interested in finding and expressing what connects us to each other and to our environment. Patricia shared: “I am thrilled to take part in this public art project and collaborate with an artist who has worked in larger scale projects. There is so much to learn and this is such a wonderful way to do it.”

The concept

While developing the art for the fire station, Jennifer focused on where culture and nature meet. She looked for inspiration from the local environment, history, architecture, private gardens, public spaces, personal stories and cultural traditions.

Jennifer's goal was to transform the stairwell with a sensitive art installation that could embody a story for everyone. After meeting community representatives, she had an overwhelming sense of the connectivity felt between those that serve, work, and live in the community and the significant reciprocal nature of that interconnectivity.

Jennifer's design for the Mount Pleasant Fire Station stair-well re-imagines the community's priorities and values resulting in a series of images that she hopes will become a meaningful landmark to the community. It celebrates the unique purpose of the fire station while being focused on the community and the relationships that hold the community together.

The artwork

The artwork for the Mount Pleasant Fire Station #7 will be located in the feature stairwell in the southwest corner of the building. All the panels will be clearly visible from 4th street through the curtain wall windows on the west side of the building.

The artwork is comprised of four pieces of painted aluminium (see Panels 1-4).

Mount Pleasant Panel 1

Panel #1

The largest section (panel #1) hangs at the top of the central wall and the bottom edge follows the lines of the handrail. It measures about four metres wide and three metres tall at its longest point.The left side of the artwork shows a motif of water gushing forcefully from a fire hose and through a night sky. The pattern of the water appears to flip up in an imagined response to the handrail. In the upper right area of the design, two hands drop stars into the sky above the Mount Pleasant Art Centre as it looked when it was first built as the local school, sitting isolated in fields. The image of the school was inspired by an old photograph of the building provided by a community member. In addition to the literal meaning, the stars also represent those people who come into a community and make it a brighter, better place. The nine larger stars also memorialize the firefighters in Calgary who have given their lives while on duty in service to the community.

Mount Pleasant Panel 2

Panel #2

On the lower stairwell, a diagonal freeze (panel #2) will be mounted on the central wall above the handrail. Edge-to-edge it measures about three-and-a-half metres by one metre. It is a design of hands with the water patterns flowing down and around them – visually linked from the hose imagery on the floor above. Each hand gesture communicates a value, activity or connection within the community.

Mount Pleasant Panel 3

Panel #3

Panel #3 will be mounted on the wall of the landing between the 2nd and 3rd floors, facing out to 4th street. The panel is a vertically-oriented cityscape of Mount Pleasant, including tree-lined streets, historical buildings, landmarks and distinctive characteristics of the area. The panel is approximately three metres tall by one metre wide and has a representation of the historic Balmoral Circus placed at eye level for people using the stairwell.

Mount Pleasant Panel 4

Panel #4

Panels #4 will be mounted on the landing between the first and second floors. The panel is round, a little over one metre in diameter, and depicts welcoming hands. It will be eye-level for the people using the stairwell.

Community involvement

Jennifer was inspired by the stories of people who live and work in the area as well as walking around the streets of North Mount Pleasant and researching the architecture and landmarks of the area. At a community event in late September 2016, Jennifer talked with firefighters, artists at the North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre (across the street from the new fire station), and community members who participated. Participants shared their personal stories of the area as well as heritage information. What Jennifer heard emphasized the deep attachment everyone felt to Mount Pleasant. She met some of the firefighters who will work in Fire Station #7. It was an opportunity to talk about their jobs, responsibilities, and to build a picture of how they will function in the new building.

The hands motif in the artwork resulted from these meetings with firefighters. Jennifer observed their role in the community, their love of the volunteer work they do, and the opportunities they find or create to engage with the community, such as when the firefighters are with the children on the soccer field or participating so generously in the development projects like this one. The hands communicate those values in the gestures of giving, holding, protecting, respecting and inviting.

At the Mount Pleasant Art Centre Jennifer also met a local resident in his 90s who has lived his entire life in Mount Pleasant. He brought boxes of historical photographs along with personal anecdotes, memories and a history of the initial development of the area after the Second World War. His contribution to the development of this project can't be underestimated. Along with the archive from the Calgary Fire Department, the artist has had access to a wealth of visual material.