Carved Glass Wall Concept For Canada House, London
The Carved Glass Wall reflects on historical aspects of Canada, while doing so through a contemporary lens. More specifically, the Carved Glass Wall reflects symbolically on the origins of Canada within the context of its relationship with the United Kingdom.
This relationship had its roots in the fur trade. Beaver pelts were used for the beaver hats in high demand throughout England and Europe from the mid sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. This trade in beaver pelts was a fundamental factor in the exploration and early settlement of Canada. It also established a partnership between Canada and the UK that has flourished and grown into the relationship we have today.
The beaver remains a widely recognized symbol of Canada, without the beaver, modern Canada would not exist. As the quest for beaver drew trappers to the farthest reaches of our country, settlers, industry, our culture, and all that is contemporary Canada followed.
The beaver is one of the main symbols within the work. It is represented by an abstract fur pattern in the large dark rectangle. It is also represented by four black linear beaver drawings placed on the white rear wall behind the glass. The beaver images are taken from the
Canadian nickel. They are hidden and not clearly visible. They exist behind the glass to create a kinetic visual effect. Placed behind clear glass lines within the work they are only visible through those clear areas. As the viewer moves, the interaction of the lines creates a perceptible optic effect of movement within the work. The beavers are hidden, much as they would be out of view behind sticks and brush in nature. Other symbolic elements are incorporated into the composition. The glass wall contains Canadian landscape elements and references to another widely recognized Canadian icon…….. snow. The 93 cylindrical forms that float within the composition reference falling snow. Viewed from the side, the three-dimensional forms are white in colour but as you move towards the front, colour begins to emerge within them. As you walk past the sculptural wall the colour shifting qualities in the dichroic glass become apparent and each snowflake exhibits its own unique hue, successively shifting in colour as you walk past the work, creating a kinetic visual experience.
In conceiving this work I had the parallel objectives of designing a piece that would respond to the architectural qualities of the space, while looking at Canada in a unique way. The contrast provided between the fur-like texture of the dark almost opaque rectangular form, and other areas of the colourfully illuminated glass wall provide tangible counterpoints. It reflects the vast breadth of qualities that make Canada so diverse. My intent was to present these Canadian symbols in a contemporary context without clichés, I want it to be seen as a reflection of Canada today.
Dichroic Glass Definition:
Dichroic glass is the term used to describe a type of thin film optical glass that undergoes a color change in certain lighting conditions. It is produced by micro-layers of metals or oxides, which give the glass shifting colors depending on the angle of view, causing an array of colors to be displayed. Dichroic glass has the property of displaying a particular transmitted color and a completely different reflected color, as certain wavelengths of light either pass through or are reflected.