Wolfe and the Sparrows
About the artwork
Wolfe and the Sparrows is a cast bronze sculpture, by Branden Vickers (2019), inspired by an existing statue of General James Wolfe, sculpted by John Massey Rhind in 1898.
General Wolfe was a British army general who lead the British army to victory over the French during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
Wolfe and the Sparrows may first appear to be a traditional monument, cast in bronze and raised on a pedestal.
But as you move closer, it is revealed to be different: a flock of sparrows explodes from the figure, distorting Wolfe’s head and shoulders.
This sculpture doesn’t celebrate a historical figure; it is transformative.
A deeper look at Wolfe and the Sparrows - Calgary public art
Explore Wolfe and the Sparrows
Download a guide to help to spark conversation and reflection on moments from our past.
A project-specific public art selection panel selected artist Brandon Vickerd for the development and execution of this project. Brandon is a Hamilton-based artist and Professor of Sculpture at York University, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and Art History. Purposely diverse, his studio work straddles the line between high and low culture, acting as a catalyst for critical thought and addressing the failed promise of a modernist future predicated on boundless scientific advancement. Whether through craftsmanship, the creation of spectacle, or humor, the goal of his work is to provoke the viewer into questioning the dominate myth of progress ingrained in Western world views.
He received his BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and his MFA from the University of Victoria.
By transforming the look of the original statue with a flock of sparrows – a bird species native to England, Wolfe’s place of birth – Wolfe and the Sparrows offers a new perspective on the ways that traditional monuments reflect and celebrate moments from our history. This work challenges citizens to explore how our ideas of nationhood evolve as we expand our understanding of the past.
Cast in bronze and positioned on a traditional raised pedestal, Wolfe and the Sparrows uses the language and aesthetic of traditional statuary to actively challenge the authority of public monuments and destabilize the dominant cultural associations of bronze statuary.
Value to Calgarians
This work challenges our ideas of nationhood as we explore and evolve our understanding of the past.
Rhind’s original piece is transformed with sparrows, a bird species native to England, General Wolfe’s place of birth. This public art offers a new perspective on how traditional monuments reflect and celebrate moments from our history.
Engagement with Calgarians
The concept for Wolfe and the Sparrows comes from many conversations and engagement with Calgarians from communities near the artwork. This collaboration was essential in the development of the piece.
"The initial idea came out of conversations with the Inglewood community. This project was a unique opportunity because the selection committee chose me as the artist, not based on a proposed finished work, but based on my ability to work with the community to develop themes or concepts that they would like to see reflected in the artwork. A certain portion of the population wanted to see something that was historic in nature, something figurative in bronze that reflected the historical architectural quality of community. Another component of the Inglewood population really wanted to see something that was critical, challenging and funny. Yet another core theme that emerged from all the consultations was the desire to delve deeper than Calgary's recent past, exploring the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples, as well as exploring land rights issues and looking at how we view a sense of history in terms of community."
- Brandon Vickerd, artist
Where can I find it?Wolfe and the Sparrows is in Inglewood, near the south west corner of the 12th Street Bridge.
Design, Manufacture and Budget
- This funding is from the 12 Street Bridge's capital budget of $26 million.