Trees that were felled on the Halifax Common to make way for new roundabouts have returned to the public space as art.
Eighteen maple, elm and sycamore trees ranging in age from about 40 to 120 years were removed in 2014.
“Typically, when trees are cut in our urban forest, they end up getting chipped up and they go to the landfill,” said Kim Thompson, the executive director of The Deanery Project, which is overseeing the art installation.
“Sometimes — not that often — they get used for firewood … and very, very rarely will they find their way into the hands of an artisan that can repurpose them.”
The Deanery Project, an arts and environmental learning centre based in Ship Harbour on the Eastern Shore, was determined not to let the trees end up in the landfill.
Our Common Woods
The art project, called Our Common Woods, includes installations by local artists Theo Heffler, Erin Philp, Steve Sekerak, Gary Staple and Alan Syliboy.
Syliboy’s piece, called Mi’kmaw Sign Post, is a wigwam constructed with eight paddles that represent the eight Mi’kmaq districts. The paddles are bound together with roots at the top of the structure, and on the ground in the centre of the wigwam is a stone with an eight-pointed star carved in it — a replica of the Bedford petroglyph.
“It’s a very sort of simple design, but it’s very effective in telling a story that Mi’kmaq people were on this land for a long, long time and it’s good to be back in the middle of Halifax again,” Syliboy said.
Connecting with nature
Thompson said residents passing through the Common seem to be enjoying the art. Heffler’s project, called elm elm maple elm, is “a wonderful piece,” Thompson said.
“I’ve seen people lounging on it every time I go by. It’s very dramatic.”