Saturday, December 3, 2011


courtesy of Channel 7 TV

We told you about the sculpture symposium a few weeks ago. It started off with the usual kind of display - but that was only the start of one of the boldest pubic art initiatives we've ever seen in Belize.

We caught up with the programme today where things have gone from the showroom to the work shop - and the scale and size of public sculpture has grown immensely.

Jules Vasquez reporting
The grounds at the former CET compound have been transformed into a workyard where massive hulking, ten ton boulders of limestone - that have been chiseled, shaped and sculpted to perfection are hoisted by a crane.

The sculptor in this case is British - one of six international masters participating in the most ambitious public art project Belize has ever witnessed:

Jacques Hildebrand
"What we've done here is we brought in a whole bunch of 15 tonns stones, we brought them from Pine Ridge where they were quarry. We put them on site here and what we intend to do is to make complete sculptures out of those stones to remain in the public in Belize."

Acrid Puffs of limestone powder gust from each piece in progress and the entire place is covered in a haze, the workers wrapped up like Bedouins, whitened like snowmen.

This compelling three part work was nearing completion. The sculptor is Austrian Caroline Ramesdorfer.

Caroline Ramesdorfer - Austria 18th. Sculpture Symposium
"It has a nexus point it's going to be the crossings of linings of the columns, they are like pillars almost, like they are pillars of a thought they are pillars of a building, a constructive positive meaning in the work. And the matching point when you see all three of them together up in the position on the steel stand, I would call it like a nexus point, like a meeting point, somewhere where things come together."

And coming together is an appropriate theme for this uncannily ambitious project - it combines sculptors from Belize and Europe:

Jacques Hildebrand
"We have eight sculptors' 2 are Belizean, we have 1 Romanian, 1 Bulgarian, Austrian, Turkey, English, Canada well, yeah (laughs)."

And the works reflect that international sensibility - this one form a Turkish Sculptor depicts the sea and the sky while Belizean Anthony Vacarro is doing an odd thing, he's recreating a mask that was first done at Lamanai over one thousand years ago - and similarly that was cut from blocks of limestone.

Is it appropriation or comodification? He says it's accountability:

Anthony Vacarro
"It is a piece that you can pass remark on because it's not an abstract, you can't pass remarks on a abstract, that from the mind of the artist, but everybody in the public can say whether this head is Lamanai head or not."

Jules Vasquez
"You confident you can do it?"

Anthony Vacarro
"Yes that's why I am working on it. This is a great experience for me, but I have the knowledge of working already because stone work has been done from time to time in Belize."

But this scale of work hasn't been done since, well the Mayans - and while we have Mayan Temples to prove their worth, from this project.

Jacques Hildebrand
"First of all we have international sculpture finding a home in Belize to remain here for generations. The second thing is now we have trained group of Belizean sculptors to work in stone renewing a tradition that comes from thousands of years ago that got lost. We bring it back now."

Jackie Castillo, Public Relations NICH
"What NICH is trying to do is we are to instill public art. It's something that is not popular here in Belize, but we figured that since we have sculptors in Belize who work in primary wood and maybe some of them may work in some slate, we wanted to introduce working in a new type of material. Visuals art is something that can inspire and it can ignite different type of thinking."

Jacques Hildebrand
"These sculptors comes and essentially donates these sculptures to the people of Belize, in permanent situation, it's centered in a public place where everybody can enjoy them. "

The sculpture symposium will wrap up next week Saturday at 10:00 am at the CET compound - and the public is invited to see what the final works look like.

After that, the works will be assigned to public places which are yet to be determined.

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