Local artists considered in design plans for the Halifax Central Library

Six candidates have been short-listed to design public art and provide consulting services for The Halifax Central Library.

By Clark Jang

Artwork by Cathy Busby (Photo by Dalhousie Art Gallery)
Artwork by Cathy Busby (Photo Credit: Dalhousie Art Gallery)

Six candidates have been short-listed to design public art and provide consulting services for The Halifax Central Library.

Halifax residents Cathy Busby and Garry Neill Kennedy are excited to be considered together.

“It is very exciting for my partner, Garry Neill Kennedy, and I to be short-listed for the Central Library project, since it’s an opportunity to contribute to the make-up of this new landmark building in HRM,” Busby says.

Artists Dan Corson, George Legrady, Jill Anholt, and Rodney Latourelle, and design studio Realities United were also short-listed for the job. There were more than 100 entries, many of which were international.

Jan Edler of Realities United, an art and architecture studio in Berlin, says he is excited to have a chance to work on the Central Library. “The architectural design looks so promising and inspiring.”

The proposed Halifax Central Library (Photo Credit: Halifax Public Libraries)
The proposed Halifax Central Library (Photo Credit: Halifax Public Libraries)

Before most artists started brainstorming and others did not want to divulge their plans, Rodney Latourelle, a Winnipeg artist living in Berlin, had already taken to the drawing board.

“I am interested in a public art concept that is not only integrated into the spatial organization of the building, but that can be used in a complementary way,” Latourelle says in an e-mail. “I am not interested in an autonomous decorative object but a ‘perceptual and functional tool’ that reinforces the public and democratic nature of the building.”

Busby says she uses her artwork to express tensions in everyday life. Locally, her artwork has been featured throughout her neighbourhood in the North End, the Dalhousie Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

“I think it’s important to keep a big-world perspective, while working on issues that have local resonance,” Busby says.

The next step for the short-listed candidates is to produce a working concept from which the selections committee will make their final decision.

Peter Dykhuis is a judge on the selections committee and thinks that the decisions between finalists will be tough. Dykhuis says that he is equally fond of all the finalists.

The Central Library will be built on the southeast corner of Spring Garden Road and Queen Street. Construction is slated to begin this spring and the library is scheduled to open in 2014. Funding for the public art is budgeted at $450,000, making it the largest commission for a public art project in HRM.