Healing the Cut
I conceived Healing the Cut - Bridging the Gap in 1993, in collaboration with artist Janis Bowley, as a response to the Grandview Cut Bridges public art competition. At that time, the city had just completed several new bridges across the Cut, which is a man-made ravine, originally excavated in 1910, to accommodate a railway. The bridge construction was controversial because it destroyed a considerable area of lush, deciduous forest that had grown up in the intervening years and provided important habitat for urban wildlife as well as a visual reprieve from the heavily urbanized landscape. Furthermore, there was a strong suspicion in the community that the bridges had been designed to accommodate widening the ravine, to turn it into a major traffic artery.
Though the original (January 1993) call for artists encouraged proposals that would be "an addition to, or an embellishment of the bridges as constructed," we decided to take a different approach. We focused on the highly visible Victoria Drive bridge, which forms the third side of a triangle bounded by Broadway, a major thrufare, and a section of what was already a badly eroding, deforested ravine. Instead of decorating the bridge, we proposed to replace the obliterated forest and to re-imagine the bridge as a kind of community viewing platform from which pedestrians could observe the processes of ecological restoration. To achieve the latter goal, we incorporated a telescope into the design, to be built into an alcove, halfway across the bridge's span. We planned to restore the ravine's forest using hundreds of willow and cottonwood cuttings, which would root and stabilize the soil until the original alder and big-leaf maple forest re-established itself. To assist in this, we planned to install a number of nest boxes on the slope to bring back the birds that had been displaced by the construction. Their droppings would ensure a continuous 'seed-rain' of native plant species as well as furnish important plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.
Link to google maps location here.