Three locations along Mission Creek Greenway between Gordon Drive & KLO Road

The Work

This series of steel “vessels” evokes a connection between human movement through water and the aquatic lifecycle by referring both to the iconographic form of the canoe and the remains of an ancient fish. Each of the sculptures is made of rolled steel and mounted on boulders. Each piece is different in form and orientation. The scale is about the same as a real canoe, approximately 4.3m in length.

In the words of the artist, Richard Watts, "The title of the work refers to a salmon run, as well as the joggers that use the park. It also references our culture's pace of life: too often we run through life, not walk. Art should be arresting, and lead someone who is running to stop and have a different kind of experience."

More specifically, the artist comments, "The installation uses the metaphor of movement along a river as symbolic of movement through life and through time. It connects the movement of people with the migration patterns of fish and aquatic animals. These sculptures are no longer canoes, but become strange and new bodies: they are boats, they are us, they are fish, they are whales. These bodies are positioned along Mission Creek like skeletal relics of creatures uncovered by the receding waters. As such they go back in time and project into the future."

The Project

The City of Kelowna launched a competition in spring 2005 for the creation and installation of a permanent work of public art to be located along Phase I of the Mission Creek Greenway. The intent of the competition was to solicit a design which would incorporate the use of natural materials and integrate well with the creekside environment and use of the linear pathway. The brief also encouraged artists to reflect on the historical and environmental significance of Mission Creek to the residents of Kelowna.

Fifteen submissions were received. The 4 shortlisted submissions were reviewed in August 2005 by a jury consisting of the Public Art Committee, a representative of the Friends of Mission Creek, an environmental technician from the City of Kelowna, and a representative from the Regional District of Central Okanagan Parks Department. By consensus, the jury agreed that Richard Watt’s series of 3 sculptures be recommended.

Watts built the sculptures in his Toronto studio. The installation process commenced during the week of May 15, 2006 and was completed on May 24, 2006. The artworks were officially dedicated on July 14, 2006. The commissioned budget was approximately $50,000.

The Artist

Richard Watts is a Toronto-based artist with an interest in large scale site-specific environmental installations. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture/Installation from the Ontario College of Art and Design, an Honors BA from the University of Kansas and has completed studies in art therapy. He has exhibited widely in Ontario and the U.S. This was his first commission in Western Canada.


The sculptures can be found in 3 locations along the Mission Creek Greenway:
on the south side of Mission Creek near Michaelbrook Marsh;
upstream of the viewing platform between Casorso Road and KLO Road;
upstream of location 2, at “Laura’s Bench”.