‘Bergen Rocks RDC’ this summer with 104,000 lbs of stone

Red Deer will soon be hosting the International Sculpture Symposium, entitled Bergen Rocks RDC, from July 28 until Aug. 28.

The Bergen Rocks symposium has been held at the Morton Burke acreage in Bergen, Alberta for the last three years. This year, Red Deer College has approached them to be a host location for the event.

“This is the very kind of thing that builds community,” said City of Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

Morton Burke, owner and operator of Bergen Rocks, was the first person to hold his own international symposium of this sort. Usually colleges, cities, or large organizations hold the symposiums.

The symposiums draw artists from all over the world including this years’ group with artists coming from Italy, Mongolia, Korea, Turkey and China among others.

The sculptors will spend one month on location sculpting more than 104,000 lbs of marble and blue stone from Vietnam into pieces of art.

“People from all over are welcome to come and enjoy the vibrant arts community that we have here in Red Deer,” said Joel Ward, RDC president.

Flewwelling also spoke of a memorable symposium similar to Bergen Rocks that was held in 1980 in celebration of the province’s 75th anniversary. The sculptors worked in steel and had a week to create their masterpieces.

“Four out of five of those sculptures now reside at Red Deer College because they were a little too abstract for the community in their day,” said Flewwelling.

However, Flewwelling believes that the pieces created this year will be more accepted by the community simply because of their medium.

“Work seen at the sculpture symposium is highly engaging. People can resist touching steel, but can’t resist stone. It’s the tactile piece, that’s what will be different.”

Burke is very excited to be able to move his symposium to Red Deer and share it with the public. Viewers will actually have a chance to get their hands on the stone and partake in the development of the pieces.

“Not only is it an opportunity to have an event like this, the resulting artwork that will be created will have tremendous permanence,” he said.

Burke says if the sculptures are well cared for they could remain in our society to be enjoyed by the public for 2,000 years or longer.

“There are sculptures that are in reasonable condition from antiquity that are that age, and they haven’t been cared for the way that we know they can be now. So I think we can say they will last forever.”

Three of the sculptures from the event will remain in Red Deer and be rotated every year with pieces from Bergen Rocks.

“They will be in a public location where people don’t even have to get out of their cars to view them,” said Burke.

Bergen Rocks is also involved in the Global Sculpture Project. The idea was developed during the Global Sculpture Conference in China.

Every country that is involved in the project will have an identical vertical art piece to which artists can contribute. Over the years, the sculpture will grow wider with the pieces added to it by international artists.

“Those of you who have ever made the trek to Bergen Rocks got the prize, but now we’re going to hold this in Red Deer for all to see,” said Flewwelling.

The sculpting can be viewed six days a week, closed Tuesdays, and the final reception will be on Aug. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information contact Continuing Education at 403-356-4900 or email continuingeducation@rdc.ab.ca