Exterior view of the renovated Newton Recreation Centre. (Photo: submitted/City of Surrey)

PHOTOS: New ‘Fern’ art at expanded Newton rec centre designed to reduce bird-window collisions

Reopening event at the rec centre on Saturday, Sept. 30

Surrey’s newest piece of public art was inspired by the indigenous plants that grow in the “The Grove,” located next to Newton Recreation Centre.

The windows of the recently renovated and expanded facility feature “Fern Façade,” created by Vancouver-based artist Sean Alward.

The rec centre’s fitness space has been doubled in size, totalling 8,000 square feet, with added mat-room space for wrestling, yoga and other uses. A new lobby area has also been created as part of the project, estimated to cost $5 million.

“The design emphasized the importance of putting fitness and athletics on display while enhancing the existing facility lobby, landscape and entrance,” according to a post on the city’s website.

Alward’s “Fern Façade” was selected as the centre’s new public art feature, following an Artist Call for Expressions of Interest. The art project budget was $10,000.

The work is based on the athyrium felix-femina, or common lady fern. One frond spans the wall of windows, with one or more leaflets inside each pane of glass. A closer look at the artwork reveals thousands of dots, which mimic the round spores found on the underside of fern leaves, the plant’s reproductive system.

As part of architect Nick Sully’s building design, the art-clad windows are said to help maintain and moderate the temperature of the building by filtering sunlight, and also reduce bird-window collisions.

“I did the design, a digital file on the computer,” Alward told the Now-Leader, “and then I was working with the architects who did the renovations on the centre there, and they were working with the manufacturer. They took my digital file, and then it was manufactured.

“Technically, it’s called frit glass, so it’s a silkscreen ink print on the glass, and then they cook the glass and that melts the ink in the glass, so it’s permanent,” Alward added.

Ferns have been thriving in the Newton area since the emergence of rain forests sometime after the last ice age.

“They weave together deep time with present time and also the original landscape of Surrey with its current urban form,” Alward stated. “The film strip reference of the design, with its cropped images arranged in successive window panes, is a way of visualizing the ferns’ paradoxical state of continuity within fluid change.”

Alward plans to attend the official unveiling of “Fern Façade” during a “reopening event” at the rec centre on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

 

Artist Sean Alward created “Fern Façade” as part of the renovated Newton Recreation Centre. (photo: submitted)

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