Peter Powning to create historic sculpture to commermorate Saint John and its people


Peter Powning, an award-winning sculptor from Markhamville N.B., has been awarded the Saint John 225 public art commission for his original work ‘Shards of Time’.

Powning and his team, which includes his son, artist Jake Powning; UNB Saint John historian Greg Marquis; UNB archeologists David Black and Susan Blair; structural engineers Dan Estabrooks and Ross Whitcomb; landscape architect
Larry Stewart and lighting designer Luis Rocha, were selected by a seven-member jury from a group of 26 submissions from across Canada.

‘Shards of Time’ is a multilayered piece that will pay tribute to the many generations who have lived here, where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy, for millennia. When completed, it will be installed at the top of the harbour, at a point along Harbour Passage where the path splits underneath the Harbour Bridge, just west of Fort LaTour and east of the HMS

The main structure is a representation of a pottery bowl that is considered typical from the Late Maritime archeological era, representative of the Paleo-Indian peoples who are believed to have lived in the area as long as 11,000 years ago. The vessel, which will weigh approximately 6 tons and is roughly 12 feet in diameter, 18 feet wide and 10 feet high, is fragmented – or in
shards. It will appear to be half-buried, recreating the feeling of an archeological site.

Encircling these shards will be a cast bronzed band that will contain imprints of objects from Saint John’s past. Later this year, the Powning Design team will be asking the public to submit small historical artifacts to be considered for inclusion in the piece. The team will make wax impressions of the items that will be integrated into ‘Shards of Time’.

“We are very excited by Powning Designs’ proposal. When it is completed and installed next summer, it will be a fantastic new element along Harbour Passage and the Saint John Waterfront – a signature public art piece for Saint John,” said Michael Wennberg, Saint John 225 board member and head of the public art project. “What drew the public art jury and our Saint John 225 board to it over the many other submissions was both how well the piece captures the full scope of our history and Peter’s commitment to get the public involved in its creation. This means that it will be a piece that truly belongs to the
people of Saint John.”

The value of the contract is $200,000 and is a project of Saint John 225, the official anniversary celebrations of the City of Saint John and its incorporation as Canada’s original city. Saint John was incorporated on May 18, 1785. Saint John and its anniversary celebrations have been designated a 2010 Cultural Capitals of Canada.

Saint John 225’s public art project is a continuation of the City of Saint John’s successful One Percent for Arts program, which encourages public sector capital projects to set aside a minimum of one per cent of capital costs for a public art installation. To date three pieces have been commissioned and installed, two at the headquarters for Saint John Energy and one piece outside Saint John Transit’s new terminal.

“This piece will be a wonderful addition to the Saint John waterfront. People will be able to explore their history by walking around ‘Shards of Time’ and looking at the pieces in it. Peter Powning’s design is a fitting tribute to our history,” said Saint John Mayor Ivan Court. “We are proud of our designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada, which establishes the importance of arts and culture to the life of our city.”

Powning Design will install ‘Shards of Time’ following completion of construction on the Harbour Bridge, tentatively scheduled for mid-2011.
The Saint John 225 public art jury members were: artists Monica Adair, Ned Bear, Gerald Beaulieu, Sarah Jones and Andre Lapointe; New Brunswick Museum art curator Peter Laroque and Beaverbrook Art Gallery curator Terry Graff.


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