Designers' creativity blossoms in Cool Gardens installations at The Forks

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Senior Associate | Landscape Architect

Cool Gardens are once again popping up in and around The Forks.

The sixth-annual public exhibition celebrating contemporary garden culture, public art and the local landscape kicked off Friday with the official unveiling of this year's installations.

"Cool Gardens aims to bring architects, designers, landscape architects, and artists together to celebrate contemporary garden culture and the local landscape," said David Penner, StorefrontMB president and Cool Gardens co-curator.

"This year's exhibits offer residents and visitors an opportunity, similar to warming huts, to engage in the art and design culture thriving in Manitoba and around the globe."

This year Cool Gardens will include seven installation sites at The Forks, along Provencher Boulevard (to the east of The Forks) and at South Point in Winnipeg.

The two winners of this year's juried competition are Floating Flowers at The Forks and Shovel Garden at La Maison des Artiste Visuels on Provencher Boulevard.

Floating Flowers is created by French artists Noel Picaper and Hugo Bertrand, both based in Paris, and features floating flowers made to resemble a forest of white flowers.

"Floating Flowers explores the boundaries between an artificial object and a natural context — it creates a microcosm," explained Claire McKay, from The Forks Foundation.

Shovel Garden is a creation of Meagan Hunter, Elise Brownlee and Kristen Struthers of Winnipeg's Nadi Design and includes more than 100 white snow shovels meant to both provide shade and remind Winnipeggers about the chillier months the city sees.

"We're juxtaposing the winter to the summer," explained Hunter.

"So when you're walking through it you see the shovel, which is not an object you see in the summer, and it instantly puts you back in that spot when it was minus-30 with tons of snow around.

"So the idea is supposed to cool you down."

This year's invited installation is called, appropriately enough, Cool, and is the creation of MVRDV architects from the Netherlands.

It can be found at The Forks near the Scotiabank Stage and consists of a 30-foot tall cocktail stir stick with a cloud at the top meant to create shade for passers-by.

The structure is also positioned to act as a sundial and is scheduled to be completed by the end of July.

The Cool Gardens exhibition is the summer version of the popular warming huts that are set up at The Forks and along the frozen river trail each winter.

The exhibition runs until mid September.

Watch the interview on CBC.

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