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Parksville resort welcomes new permanent glass art installation

Robert Held’s work on display at Bayside
A new permanent art installation by glass artist Robert Held is on display at the Bayside Resort in Parksville. (Kevin Forsyth photo)

A new permanent glass art installation is on display at The Bayside Oceanfront Resort in Parksville.

Robert Held’s piece creates the appearance of rain drops (approximately 650 of them) falling on a 10-foot-by-four-foot topographic map of Vancouver Island, printed by Parks West.

The idea stems from an exhibition at the McMillan Art Gallery (MAC) this past summer called ‘The Tale of One Urban Creek’, where the drops were hung as a waterfall.

When the MAC’s executive director, Jennifer Bate, raised the idea of a permanent installation at the Bayside, Held thought up with a new arrangement for the artwork.

“I came up with the idea of the island,” Held said, adding that the water drops hang from a grid high above. “I thought, let’s put as many drops as we can on the grid.”

Mountains run along the island in the form of rocks, which Held came across when dynamite was used to put in a road to his son’s home in Nanoose.

“I saw these rocks in the rain there and they were just beautiful,” he said. “I thought, let’s do the whole thing. Rain, on our island — which we’re used to, and the mountains.”

The mountains, when illuminated by colourful lights, create a 3D look.

A spot recently opened up one the resort’s main floor and general manager Darren Watson was thrilled to be able to host the installation.

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“[It’s] something that our guests, already in the short couple of days it’s been up, are taking pictures in front of, asking all these questions about it,” Watson said. “People are so curious. I think it’s really a conversation piece that people will go home and think about.”

The piece represents a huge amount of work. Two glass-blowers in Held’s shop devoted five or six days to dropping the glass to create the shape and then each drop needed to be heated again at the top to make the loop it hangs from.

“It’s a very high-end — technical term, soda-lime glass, to give that crystal-like look, that white glass,” Held said. “Each one is gathered on an iron, on a rod and you had to do two gathers. And then we heat it up and drop it. We have to control it, so it has to be just the right temperature.”

If the glass gets too much heat, it falls on the floor, while if there’s not enough heat the glass does not fall enough and has a lumpy look, Held said.

Hanging the finished drops took two days, Held added.

“I thought it was going to be just a drop and then it was going to be the string from there,” Bate said. “But when Bob brought this in, I just thought how gorgeous that is. That piece, that is all about what water does, like it’ll stretch and then gather at the bottom.”

The tentative title for the piece, which is owned by the Bayside, is “Island Drops”.

Held’s studio, located at 708 Island Hwy E near the Orange Bridge in Parksville, is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday.

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Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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