Unwanted Heron Sculpture Takes Up Residence In Nelson

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HERONS LANDING
Jock Hildebrand's "Heron's Landing" sculpture has found a home in Nelson after it was rejected in Kelowna. (City of Kelowna) | City of Kelowna

A giant golden heron has landed in a Nelson, B.C., park and has set tongues wagging.

The bird is a controversial 7.5-metre tall bronze sculpture by West Kelowna artist, Jock Hildebrand, called Herons Landing.

It was given to the city of Nelson for a $200,000 tax receipt after it was rejected by both Kelowna and West Kelowna. It’s now perched next to the water in Lakeside Park.

“I think it’s spectacular. It puts an exclamation point on our lakeside,” said a Nelson resident strolling by the new piece of public art.

The sculpture was commissioned and paid for by a Kelowna developer who intended to put it in front of a new condominium complex. But the developer and the condo owners got into a disagreement and the sculpture ended up in storage in Calgary.

The developer offered to donate it to the Kelowna Art Gallery, but it declined. Likewise, the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna both decided against picking up the installation costs and declined to take the statue as a gift.

But the city of Nelson, which prides itself on being 'arty,' decided it was too good a deal to turn down and accepted the statue.

Mixed reaction from the public

On the path next to the sculpture, the new art installation provoked a wide range of reactions from passers-by.

“I like it. I think it’s a nice representation of nature,” said a woman walking in the park. “I walk here all the time and I think it’s something else to look at and enjoy.”

But one man when told the story of the statue’s acquisition for the first time, said, “I wouldn’t have taken it. I don’t think it fits in nature-wise here. It fits in Kelowna better than here.”

Some took a more philosophical approach. “You know, public art is one of those things where it truly is beauty in the eye of the beholder,” said a man who stopped to admire the statue.

“I think it’s nice, it’s appealing. Having public art on the public pathway and in the public park is a nice. I’m not sure everyone’s going to agree on the value.”

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