The sculpture in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie pays homage to Ukrainian culture

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Inspired by the shape of pysanky – finely decorated Easter eggs – artist Giorgia Volpe’s Entrelacs were erected Thursday at Ukraine Park.

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Just across from the towering Sainte-Sophie Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Montreal’s Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie borough, a graceful six-foot sculpture of interwoven ribbons of smooth concrete is due to be unveiled on Friday.

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Giorgia Volpe’s Tracery, installed Thursday just outside the 12th Avenue entrance to Ukraine Park, was loosely inspired by the shape of the pysanky that is so much a part of Ukrainian culture – ornately decorated, rich Easter eggs in symbols.

But where pysanky are usually colored, Volpe’s work is white; where the eggs are solid, Entrelacs – the French word for entrelacs – is hollow and open to the surroundings. It invites people to walk around and observe that it looks different, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. She invites children to crawl in it. The base on which the work is fixed will be camouflaged by flowers to be planted around it, “so it will appear to float.

“My work dialogues with the environment,” said Volpe, a Brazilian-born multidisciplinary artist who has lived and worked in Quebec since 1998. “I like the idea of ​​dialogue and relationship.”

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The work, the most recent work of public art by the City of Montreal, is the result of a public art competition organized by the Bureau d’art public in collaboration with the borough of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. It pays homage to the Ukrainian community of Montreal and to a culture rich in traditions.

“Entrelacs evokes the notion of identity DNA and becomes a symbolic unifying vessel of Ukrainian culture in Montreal”, specifies the Bureau d’art public in a document describing the work.

And in the context of the continued fighting in Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February, this “takes on particular significance”.

The borough, home to much of Montreal’s Ukrainian community of about 43,000 people, said the community needed to be consulted and involved in the creation and design of the sculpture.

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After the seven-member jury chose three finalists from the 25 artists who had been invited to submit proposals, several Ukrainian Montrealers met with representatives from the borough, the Public Art Office and the artists themselves to talk about their community’s issues, values ​​and history.

At first, Volpe says, they seemed surprised that his interpretation required the work to be hollow — and white. “But when they started to understand my practice, we started a dialogue. We understood each other – and how symbols can be used.

Once her submission was unanimously chosen by the jury, meetings were held with the community to discuss the designs and symbols that would adorn her. “My idea was to invite the community to write the symbols that are close to their hearts”, explains the multidisciplinary artist, who is interested “in the threads that bind, in the stories fueled by encounters and everyday life”.

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Creating the piece was “a unique challenge,” said Volpe, who had never worked with the medium before. It took him, as a team, more than a year. The total cost, borne by the borough, was $120,464.

The type of concrete used in the works bends, within limits, so that with molds it can be cast into complex shapes. Each ribbon in the sculpture features some of the symbols used in pysanky – etched in a stylized form dictated by the limitations of the medium. An eight-pointed star, for example, symbolizes rebirth, the sun, and life; an oak leaf symbolizes patience, strength and longevity.

“Furthermore, there is the symbolism of the egg itself: life and eternity: the bands are continuous, like eternity — without beginning or end,” said Christine Kozak, one of the members of the Ukrainian community in Montreal who played a role in the development of Entrelacs.

  1. The rich and meaningful tradition of Ukrainian Easter eggs lives on

  2. Marine Le, left, and Kira perform with a rainbow ribbon during the Montreal Ukrainian Festival, Sunday, September 8, 2019.

    Culture and heritage celebrated at the 20th Ukrainian Festival of Montreal

sschwartz@postmedia.com

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