Project details

Public Art Budget: $170K
Commissioned by: Calgary Fire Department
Capital Project: Windsor Park Fire Station No. 11
Project Completion: October 2014
Title of Artwork: Under the Helmet
Artist: Ilan Sandler
Site: Windsor Park Fire Station (5536 Fourth St. S.W.)


The artwork speaks to the complex relationships and dependencies that exist among firefighters and their equipment. In particular, the helmet distinguishes the individuality of the firefighter while symbolizing membership on a team. The artwork is more than referential. Its open spaces allow viewers to project their own understanding of what firefighters encounter.

By constructing the linear form from the characteristics of hoses and maintaining ample open spaces within the structure, the artwork’s curves complement the angular geometry of the building’s design and hardscaping. The artwork fuses the personal and the uniform into a monument to the profession, suggestive of the challenges and rewards firefighters experience while under the helmet.

The artist

Ilan Sandler has shown his work both across Canada and internationally, and has completed commissions in St. Louis, Philadelphia, South Korea and more. Closer to home, he recently installed the public sculptures A Departure in Lethbridge, The Vessel and What’s Your Name? in Toronto, and is currently working on The School Chair for the Halifax Regional Municipality. He has received numerous awards, including grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Nova Scotia Department of Culture.

Born in Johannesburg (South Africa) in 1971, Ilan Sandler and his family immigrated to Toronto in 1977. He studied at the University of Toronto, where he received a B.Sc. in Physics, and at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he completed an Honour's Fine Arts certificate. In 2000 Ilan earned an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and then went on to teach at the University of the Arts, and Moore College of Art and Design, in Philadelphia. He has most recently taught at the NSCAD University and is currently running Sandler Studio Inc. in Halifax, Toronto, Ontario.