Client: David M. General
Commissioned by: PortsToronto
Location: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, West Gap dock wall
Testimonial: “The work that HGH Granite can produce fulfils my sense of Indigenous perspective and the relationship of our art to the land.” David General, Artist
In this blog, we’re going to take a deep-dive into one of our favourite recent projects, showing you the 4-step process of taking a sculpture from idea and prototype to national treasure.
The project we’re looking at is Maanjidowin: The Gathering, created by David M. General, Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan of the Six Nations, who is known for his mix of Indigenous and modernist style.
Where is it?
The 16-foot granite and bronze sculpture sits at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the dock wall overlooking the Western Gap. It was commissioned by PortsToronto in recognition of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and their relationship to the land, air and water.
What does it represent?
Three mythical fishers – Mukwa-kwe (Bear), Nigig-kwe (Otter) and Migizi-kwe (Eagle) – who have come to the estuaries and islands along Toronto’s Lake Ontario shoreline to fish. Their canoe is inscribed with words and symbols of significance to the Mississaugas of the Credit, including the Medicine Wheel and the Seven Grandfather Teachings, which are guiding principles that provide the moral and cultural foundation of life.
How did HGH get involved?
We had worked with the artist David M. General before on various projects, including the Thomas Longboat Memorial project for the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015 and on The ‘Eagles Among Us’ memorial, located at Battlefield Park in Stoney Creek, ON. He came to us and discussed the project then HGH sourced and supplied the granite for the canoe and the animals, along with hand-polishing each piece and doing the engraving on the granite. This included accommodating the artwork provided and ensuring the stencils were placed precisely where the artist envisioned, prior to sandblasting.
The 4-step process of taking Maanjidowin from an idea to reality
1. The prototype
This model – or maquette created by the artist – shows the Maanjidowin prototype, which was used for the initial presentation then used to scale the full-size model. David talked us through his plans and we discussed the suitability of different granite types before placing an order with our quarry in India.
Once the design was decided upon and the granite was ordered, it was time for work to start on the real thing. All the granite carving and polishing was completed in India then once the granite arrived at HGH we were responsible for fitting the bronze into the granite figures, sandblasting all the text and artwork then finally installing the finished piece.
Then it was time for the sculpture to be shipped to its final destination. As you can see our team in India wrapped each piece individually and placed them into special shipping crates using our cranes.
It was installed in partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit throughout April 2022 and was opened to the public on 4 May 2022.
Maanjidowin opened on 4 May 2022 and has quickly become a beloved part of the Toronto Airport landscape.
The Honourable John Tory, Mayor of Toronto said: “Billy Bishop Airport is an important gateway for residents and visitors alike, and I am pleased that those travelling through the airport, as well as those within the surrounding community, will be able to enjoy and learn from this new and important sculpture.”
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