Board of Governors, June 24, 1999 - APPENDIX II, Annex 1

2000/2001 McIntosh Gallery Public Outdoor Art Commission Proposal


Public outdoor art abounds at Western, nurtured by the McIntosh Gallery for decades as part of the commitment to making art part of the everyday life on campus and enriching the Western experience for youth, faculty, staff and visitors alike. The McIntosh Gallery realizes the commitment to bring art to Western's community, enriching the academic environment, and sometimes for the first time, exposing students to original works of art.


The McIntosh Gallery proposes to commission London artist, (and sculpture technician in the Visual Arts Department), Doug Mitchell to create an outdoor sculpture of a gazebo-like resting place that tracks the sun and constellations from our precise geographic location. The proposed location - between the NCMRD and Talbot College, near the UC hill paved pathway - will enable exposure to a wide arc of sky and the constellations. Steel arcs that follow the sun's path at equinox intersect with a supporting sundial/axis and a sighting tube oriented to the north star. Twelve limestone blocks circle a concrete and grass "floor" with a map of Southwestern Ontario and the four Games sites. Plantings/shrubbery surround and integrate the work into the setting.

Relevance/Artistic Goals:

This commission is a celebration of the millennium in that it distills the notion of the pursuit of knowledge of one's self and one's place in the universe, the unique nature of each individual and the collective place we share with humanity and nature. It focuses on our natural, global geographic placement and context, our connection with the past of our planet and may be seen as a metaphor for our future hopes and dreams, embodied in today's youth. It references a vast body of myth and belief associated with the firmaments and forces beyond our knowing as well as the science of what we can know about our world and the universe.

Western's motto of Veritas et Utilitas, "truth and usefulness", reflected in the functional aspects of this gathering, resting area and its "positioning" as a focus for observation of the revolving firmaments and the earth beneath. How we are located in the universe - this very particular spot in Southwestern Ontario on the campus of The University of Western Ontario - a guiding grid that focuses on the constellation of stars and the passage of the sun through the cyclical path of the seasons, like the passage of youth through striving and achievement, the celebration of excellence.

The precise confluence of the geography that links the four communities as partners and sites for the 2001 Canada Summer Games is illustrated in the "floor" of the sundial. This is a meeting place- a meditative place to gather, to rest, to pause and contemplate - a "lens" that serves to focus our thoughts in a fashion similar to the concentration required of athletic excellence. In a sense, this is an observatory, a tool that marks the passage of time as a measure of athletic achievement or as the measure of our days, especially as a commemoration of the Millennium. Like an astrolabe it serves as a navigation tool, a metaphor to "chart your course".

The commission was funded with the earnings from the Gillian Saward Memorial Endowment which is designated for McIntosh Gallery Collection art purchases and with a matching grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Arlene Kennedy
June 11, 1999