Saint Andrews – Metal sculpture artist Alanna Baird believes in thinking outside the box – and that’s exactly what she is doing with her shipping container project for Discover Saint John’s Cargo-tecture Design Competition, for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
The Saint Andrews artist submitted her design, titled #DotSpot, this winter and it has been selected as one of the five finalists for the competition, which is part of the city’s Area 506 Festival taking place the first weekend in August, on Long Wharf.
Participants had to submit a concept in one of the following themes – Canadian heritage, Canadian impact, and the future of Canada.
“They advertised they were looking for artists, designers, and architects, to do a shipping container project. It was a little vague, and they didn’t give any parameters. They gave us $4000, and the shipping container.
“This is the first time they have done this, so while I was away this winter, I worked on a design and sent it in to them. They have now sorted them down to five – two are from Rexton, one from Hampton, one from Saint John, and me.”
Baird said they offered to deliver the 20 ft .long corrugated steel container to her Saint Andrews home, but it was a bit too large for her driveway, so she had it delivered to her nephew’s workshop.
It arrived about a month ago, and Baird said she is not working alone on this one. She and her project team – her husband Alastair Fox, her sister Daphne Wetmore, and her children, her brothers-in-law, and the newest member, Karl Mailhiot, from Bayside – have been working on the container for about a month.
“My entry #DotSpot is a sculptural and playful treatment of a 20 ft. shipping container. It is designed to encourage audience interaction both onsite and through social media. This will be achieved by creating round openings of various sizes, and the use of bright colours.
“My intention is to create a space that includes not only the container, but the space in and around it. I want light, air, and people to flow through it, to pause and consider it, and to share it. In this age of digital media, I am creating a space for this to happen. The box becomes a vehicle of expression.”
Baird said her husband plays a major supporting role in all aspects of the project, her nephews are providing technical support – including the use of much larger tools than she usually uses, her sister has been helping paint, and her brothers-in-law are filling supporting roles.
She said Mailhiot’s expertise in epoxy floor treatments has added a new dimension to the project, and this is something that will remain under wraps until the container is delivered to Saint John.
“I have always wanted to use shipping containers for something, and this opportunity is an exciting new way for me to work. Funnily enough, using a box to break out of my usual mode.
“I had to restrain my imagination to one 20 ft. container, and a small budget, but I feel confident that I am making something interesting within these limitations, and I have been able to include some of my family in a public art project, calling on their varied experience to help.
“It is quite interesting to work on a project big enough to walk inside of and out of and around and, for me, it’s really fun to use bright colours. Normally my work is the colour of
“I am breaking out of my usual box. It is a fun challenge. It involves a bit of travelling and I have probably put in 10 days so far. When I go there I put in a full day.”
Work on the project has to be completed by the end of July, then #DotSpot will be shipped back to Saint John where it has to be onsite by Aug. 5, and will be judged during the festival.
Funding for the project is part of the Canada 150 celebrations. Other projects include a portable bicycle repair shop, a garden shed complete with growing plants, a periscope, and a vertical viewing platform.
The containers will be on display at the Area 506 Festival site on Long Wharf, Aug. 5 and 6. There will be public voting, and a jury process to choose the first prize winner, who will receive $1500.
Discover Saint John is a not-for-profit public-private corporation, with the mandate to increase tourism revenues in Saint John by marketing the city’s unique, and competitive tourism experiences to high potential markets.