Bowfort Towers, City of Calgary, Alberta

The sculpture is a celebration of the ancient geological history of the region. It celebrates the Earth’s environment, which affects us all. The stone is elevated, ‘floating’, to signify importance. Therefore, the stone becomes an icon for the environment.

This artwork is part of my Stone Carriage series with works constructed worldwide, always using stone from the place, significant to its region and in relation to the geological history.

This sculpture is inspired solely by unique ‘specimen stones’ obtained from the personal collection of Louis and Brenda Kamenka, geologist, and owners of the Kamenka Quarry near Canmore. Over many years, Louis carefully placed aside special stones he discovered within the family quarry, established 65 years ago.

The Rundle stone slabs hold a richness of the regional history of the earth. This indigenous stone is a very hard, durable and enduring sedimentary quartz sandstone-siltstone. Its surfaces of fossils, of ancient creatures and fossilized water ripples, was formed in an ocean that existed locally about 225 million years ago, during the Triassic Period.

Rundle Rock is rare. Found only in Alberta, and nowhere else in North America. From a geological viewpoint, it holds within each bedding plane the tremendous story of survival which took place on our planet during a period of mass extinction. The individual layers of stone record this history and the events that took place on a prehistoric ocean floor. Water ripple marks and fossil traces are common, including imprints of life species which flourished then, such as Ammonites, Brachiopods, Clams and Fishes.

Each tower has symmetrically triangulated poles placed a 15 degree angle, giving a sense of rotation. The upper parts of the towers are open, embracing and invoking the sky. The stones are placed in the center elevation area in a manner where the slabs interact with each other. The bases of the towers are rooted into the Earth. The towers act as sentinels, with their unique stone and symbolism they celebrate the geology of the region.

The tower material, corten steel, with an iron oxide patina, is in harmony with the Rundle stone which has visible iron oxide content. Iron is the most abundant element on Earth, constituting 35% of the mass of the Earth. Humans have from 3.5 to 4 grams of iron in their bodies.This is a sculpture of realism. The sculpture is not to be considered abstract as it carries only actual stone from 225 million years ago. The stones assert evidence of their history.

The concept was to give Calgarians a focal image towards their environmental history by using the actual stones which tell wonderful very ancient stories. The towers are situated within the previous Glacial Lake Calgary, from the Pleistocene Epoch. The fact that 100,000 years ago these towers would be standing under water, adds poignancy to the fossilized water ripples and creatures of the Rundle stone.

We met with leaders from the First Nations community and were advised that the number ‘four’ holds great symbolic importance. Therefore, these four towers respectfully align with the proper numerical symbolism.

I thank the people of Calgary who worked on constructing the sculpture. The quality craftsmanship of the steel towers and fine installation is by Metal-Fab Industries, in Calgary. Their expert rigging allowed me to visually fine-tune the stones to interact and speak to each other. The quality stonework is by Amico Stone Supply, of Calgary. I also thank Brenda and Louis Kamenka of Kamenka Quarry, and all the local professional advisors who were a part of this project.

Del Geist collaborated on the Bowfort Towers with Patricia Leighton and Taewook Cha, Supermass Studio.

Del Geist, 2017