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Posted: July 3, 2019

Elkford unveils first public art piece

The District of Elkford June 29 unveiled the first piece of public art in the district.

Local glass artist Katherine Russell’s eagerly awaited piece ‘Pass in the Clouds’ was officially put on display in the foyer of the Elkford Community Conference Centre following Saturday’s Wildcat Days Parade.

District of Elkford and Elkford Arts Council officials were on hand to introduce Katherine and the piece and help in the unveiling.

Katherine Russell explains how she created the piece.

The following is Katherine Russell’s address to the large audience on hand.

“Thank you so much for coming this afternoon, to celebrate the unveiling of Elkford’s newest piece of public art.

I am Katherine Russell and I’m an artist that predominantly works in glass. It was an honour to be chosen to make this artwork for Elkford.

I have always been passionate about hiking and I am so blessed to be living in the Elk Valley. I have been in Elkford for seven years now it was easy for me to find inspiration to make this artwork to celebrate where we live.

The Elk Valley is unrivalled in its combination of remoteness, abundant wildlife, rich landscape and rugged trail networks. Our area has the widest variety of coniferous tree species of any zone in B.C., from red cedar to ponderosa pines, and is habitat for elk, mountain goats, cougars… traces of each are found in this artwork.  What a haven this valley is for adventurers, risk takers, and for seekers of solitude.

One such route is Pass in the Clouds… what I’ve depicted here. It is a mountain ridge north of Elkford in the Height of the Rockies Provincial Park. It is between the White River and the Elk Valley, the saddle between Mount Cordona and Mount Abruzzi. This has been a passage for First Nations peoples for 8,000 years, travelling through to the Elk Valley and onto the Prairies. We know that the Ktunaxa were at times forced to take this rugged route when the easier route of the Crowsnest Pass was blocked.

Today Pass in the Clouds is an iconic, and historic, hiking trail. At 2,560 meters elevation, it is a challenging climb through alpine forest, scree slopes and limestone cliffs. It offers views of surrounding peaks, Abruzzi glacier and Driftwood Lake. It is an epic hiking trail, by any measure. At minimum three days, but more comfortably done in four to six. It can be tackled from the east, 52 km up the Elk Lakes Road, or from the west as seen here.

All components of this artwork were made right here in the Elk Valley – the glass panels I made by fusing layers of colour in my kiln, then printing on them with glass powder through a silkscreen. The steel frames were made by the Fernie Forge in Hosmer. I chose steel to reference the industry that has founded our town.

A few of you have shared your personal memories with me in my research for this artwork, and I thank you for that. Your stories have helped shape this artwork, be it the shade of that foreboding sky or the coral fossils added into the artwork in its late stages… right before firing. It is my hope that this artwork can rekindle some of those memories for you, each time you walk by it. It is also my hope that this artwork can spark wonder in new hikers… inspire you to explore our valley, on foot – a pace that allows for truly seeing the fine details. Hearing the subtle sounds. Being in the still quiet.

Thank you to the Columbia Basin Trust and the Elkford Arts Council for funding this artwork and to the District of Elkford for installing it and supporting this unveiling ceremony.

Please stay and enjoy some goodies. We have a scavenger hunt for kids (where Jeanette is) and *these* t-shirts for sale to celebrate the unveiling of this project, see Keira to purchase one. Teri will tell you more about the Elkford Arts Council and I can answer your questions about this hiking trail and this artwork. Thanks again for celebrating with us!”

Learn more about Pass in the Clouds

Lead image: Katherine Russell addresses the audience at the Elkford Community Conference Centre, Saturday, June 29, shortly after unveiling Pass in the Clouds. Photos and video by Carrie Schafer and Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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