The Art of the Raven

Known through folklore and mythology as intelligent and somewhat of a trickster, the raven is also esteemed for its well-honed social skills and sense of family.

Combining these social attributes with a passion for beautification of community, Qualico Communities enhanced its newest Airdrie development of Ravenswood with a 30-foot art structure dedicated to its namesake feathered friend.

Located beside a traffic circle off Ravenswood View at the corner of Ravenskirk Road and Ravenslea Garden, the metal installation captures a flock of the large black birds in flight while framing one side of a sitting area and gathering place.

“We wanted something that would tie in with the vision and theme of the community but also create a place where people could spend time and would want to go,” says Maribeth Janikowski, Qualico communications manager.

Designed and installed by Calgary company Heavy Industries, a 10-foot-high stainless curving screen mirrors a centralized ring hub bench.

The focal point of the plaza includes a tree in the centre adjacent to low paving stone walls and sitting areas. Themed for community unity, the plaza is connected to three separate walking paths leading in from different neighbourhoods in Ravenswood.

“We liked the idea that it created a place where people could come and enjoy the park with seating areas in there, as well. It’s quite a large art piece and a true feature of the community,” Janikowski says.

Utilizing the premise of feathered – and non-feathered – friends flocking together at a central meeting place, Heavy Industries designer Sander Henriksen also searched for ways to impress and captivate the viewer on a visual level.

Henriksen’s solution was to encase a flock of ravens between two layers of perforated metal helping to depict movement and focal points depending on the viewing angle.

“It allowed for more dynamic lighting and relationships between the environment and the sculpture. If I was a kid and I came up to it I would be intrigued by it,” says Henriksen.

The artist designed the sculpture to interact with different lighting conditions throughout the day and even added artificial lights for night viewing, as well as seasonal weather changes.

This Moiré effect (two sets of repetitive lines, or dots, in this case) causes unique, shifting patterns depending on the angle of view.

“Your eye develops these weird visual distortions. The pattern, as you walk by … will move with you. It’s almost like a rainbow, an illusion. A flock of birds is constantly moving and shifting. It’s a symbolic view of the piece. It is something that is never consistent, and dependent on the environment,” says Henriksen who, as an Airdrie resident, applauds anything creative that brings more culture to the city.

“It’s great [that art] is being focused on and [it] seems to be a strategy of the city to make this a nicer place to live,” he says.

Thus quoth the raven, nevermore shall there be visual blandness in the southeast neighbourhood’s landscape.

With master plans and developments continuing to dot the growing Airdrie scene, developers are blending aesthetic and cultural enhancements in their neighbourhoods.

According to Janikowski, the unique art feature fits in with Qualico’s plan of designing a villagelike atmosphere that stands out on the Airdrie landscape.

“[As] with any community, Ravenswood was more than just building a neighbourhood,” says Janikowski. “It was about creating a community with a thoughtfully planned space that provides residents with the opportunity to not only enjoy their homes but enjoy the space around them.

“The art feature is just a great example of how we try and get people out and know their other neighbours and represent that community feeling in Ravenswood,” she adds.






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