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Binkley Unveils Granite Banana Slug Public Art Sculpture

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture granite public art vancouver bc children's hospital

I was commissioned to create a sculpture for the new BC Children’s Hospital TACC facility as part of the  Children’s Healing Experience Project. The San Diego design firm of Aesthetics Inc. was hired to oversee the creation of a Canada’s first highly engaging pediatrics healing environment through fine art.

After a short competition stage, I was awarded the task to create a five foot long banana slug in granite. A jury of children decided on the subject, citing a desire to have something “ikky” that was really big. I designed the piece so that it would encourage children to ride on it like a carousel pony. The slug’s mantle is shaped like a saddle and the stainless steel top tentacles are meant to be used as handles for the rider. Originally, the sculpture was to be installed on the oncology ward, but it was determined after I completed the sculpture that is would be best if the sculpture was installed on the roof garden.

A design detail turned out to be a problem for the patients on the ward. It was agreed at the outset that my banana slug would have a lightly rough texture, but it turns out this would be a problem with microbes not being cleaned effectively from the sculpture surface and this of course would be an issue with those with very low immune systems. The Hospital was embarrassed at the oversight, and was concerned I would be upset if the sculpture was relocated within the facility.

Being carved from a local grey granite and stainless steel, the suggested relocation to the roof garden was a wonderful solution. The Hospital was relieved with my agreement, and so in September, I installed the sculpture amongst fledgling dwarf salal in the border garden of the TACC. We artists were not allowed to publicize anything to do with our pieces until the facility opened at the end of October 2017. But in the interim, I was pleased to discover that the Staff had dubbed my sculpture “Mr. Slug” and that he was among their favourite pieces already.

michael binkley sculptor stone sculpture granite public art vancouver bc children's hospital

On October 2, Michelle and I were invited to tour part of the facility and see some of the other artworks that have been integrated into the TACC environment. The TACC is indeed very impressive, with incredible state of the art technology, which will ensure fantastic care for its patients. And the artwork that has been chosen is also incredible. From the reception lobby, to the operating rooms, to the recovery spaces, murals, sculptures and interactive pieces will ease the stress for both patients and their families during their visit.

I am humbled to be a part of Children’s Healing Experience Project and hope that visitors to the rooftop garden will enjoy my “Banana Slug.”

Let me know your thoughts about my piece and the Children’s Healing Experience Project in the comments section below.

Comments: 5

  • Sandi Kalmar

    November 9, 2017

    Brilliant. You are amazing. From the
    moment you put this lovely “Banana Slug” on your design sheets I fell in love. Absolutely stunning and I actually see movement, albeit slow You never cease to amaze. Sandi

  • Beatrice Schreiber

    November 10, 2017

    Love this, Michael!

  • Bev Louis

    December 3, 2017

    Diane and I are sitting here at work wondering why we haven’t heard when your Christmas show was, so we went onto your website and found Mr. Slug! He is so cute! Do you have any mini versions yet?

    Diane thinks that he is a lovely addition to the garden as she used to work at BCCH and she knows that the kids will adore your sculpture! Merry Christmas to you and Michelle!

    Bev and Diane

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