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Sculpture much more than 'Swiss cheese'

Freud's Ceiling represents City's newest public art
By Mike Youds
September 7, 2016 11:29 A.M.
Freud's Ceiling, newly installed at the Tournament Capital Centre.

Sigmund Freud might be impressed on first glance, though he’d no doubt want to give closer analysis to a newly installed sculpture adorning the Tournament Capital Centre.

Freud’s Ceiling by B.C. artist Cameron Kerr is the City’s newest public art, selected from Kamloops Art Gallery’s permanent collection and now a permanent fixture at the TCC entrance.

The marble artwork was getting some sideways glances, straight-up analysis and praise from passersby Wednesday. Some were concerned that the design may encourage kids to approach it as a climbing gym, though people are advised to stay off the sculpture.

Freud’s Ceiling is based on a pattern found on the ceiling of an addition that was built on to Freud’s house in London, England, where Kerr once visited. The design references a naturally occurring pattern that forms in the visual cortex of the brain during the early stage of sleep. 

“It doesn’t speak to me,” said Dennis Staginnus. “It’s more Swiss cheese,” he added after the theme was explained. “Maybe something more sports oriented,” he suggested as an alternative.

“A lot of people think that Freud’s ideas are full of holes,” quipped Darlene Melfair with an impish grin.

For the most part, though, the reception was positive.

“It’s nice. The first thing people see when they come to the Tournament Capital Centre,” one said before adding, “I don’t want to be mean to whoever made it.”

"What can I say?," said Lawrence Giesbrecht. "It's nice. A little strange, but nice."

“I like the art. It’s pretty cool,” said Xavier Allen.

“I was stunned,” said Eamon O’Regan. “It’s unbelievable. Magnificent. It’s beautiful."

“I really like something unusual,” added Brigitta O’Regan.

“I think it’s kind of appropriate for a university,” said Jim Butterfield of the cerebral theme. “It makes people think a little bit.”

Lisa Strachan also thought the piece looks cool: “It’s different. I think our city has tried to do different things knowing not everybody is going to like it. I think it’s brave of them.”

Kerr has a longstanding relationship with KAG. He created the commemorative wildfire sculpture outside the TNRD building, which houses the library and art gallery, and his work was notably included in the exhibition An Era of Discontent: Art as Occupation at the KAG in 2012. 

The acquisition of Freud’s Ceiling, reflects the gallery’s mandate to collect work by living Canadian artists who have previously shown in KAG exhibitions.

Public art is a key marker of all mature cities and this initiative is indicative of the dual importance Kamloops puts on both sports and culture, the gallery said. 

There is much more to the piece than initially meets the eye. As part of his exploration, Kerr was also interested in research developed by a neurological scientist at the University of Chicago, Jack Cowan. Cowan discovered the mathematical formula that occurs in the visual cortex which produces hexagonal patterns.

Commissioned by the City of Vancouver to celebrate the City’s 125th anniversary, Freud’s Ceiling is part of a body of work that emerged from research into various sources, including art history, modernist architecture, iconography in the built and cultural environment, as well as the fields of biology and psychology. Freud’s Ceiling is similar to Cameron Kerr’s earlier work, in which he produced sculptural objects based on hexagonal concrete city planters. The carved forms and markings in these works evoke familiar urban shapes and reference the rods and cones that form in the retina of the human eye.

Kerr’s geometric sculptures suggest a bodily relationship to our built environment and allude to perceptual processes, where the sculpture embodies the very mechanisms of viewing in the object being perceived and understood by the eye. Now in its prominent location at the TCC, the architectural references of this sculpture acknowledge the importance of this civic building to the citizens of Kamloops.

Kerr developed his marble carving skills studying in Italy and with UK artists. He went on to study at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, where he worked with well-known artist Liz Magor. Working in marble, he developed an approach that merges traditional, figurative and conceptual ideas.

The TCC installation cost the City about $5,000.

yuri says:
September 8, 2016 03:55am

actually like it. I am a fan of public art. Stuff like this is usually accounted for in capital budgets and is much more noticeable than things like carpet, blinds,tiles,etc.

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Grouchy 1 says:
September 7, 2016 02:16pm

Just more proof that if the city can find a way to waste money, they will. As art ? Useless.

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JP Winston says:
September 7, 2016 12:48pm

What a ridiculous display, and why didn't you report on the cost to the tax payers? The cost of the - whatever it is, the cost of ripping up the bricks and laying new ones, the cost of installing the ... waste material, the whole nine yards.

I see Allen Douglas at TCC all the time shooting sporting events and he said it best on Twitter yesterday when he wrote:

"Can we PLEASE have public art relevant to the city, it's history & the people who live here? Tired of pseudo intellectual crap."

And again,

"I guess that tells the world we couldn't think of one single athlete from Kamloops we could - or should - honour #MyTaxesToo "


I can't improve on that

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