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Audain Art Museum loaned historic vase from the National Gallery

Arts News: Cultural Connector brochure published



The Audain Art Museum has been loaned a significant artwork from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

The 112-year-old Ptarmigan Vase was unveiled at a private reception at the Audain on Monday, May 16.

It will be on public display for three years, starting Wednesday, May 18.

The 63.5-centimetre vase — made from copper, silver and gold in 18 layers of metals bonded together using the tradition Japanese mokume technique — has a connection to British Columbia's gold prospecting days.

The vase is one of two Ptarmigan Vases designed by Paulding Farnham of Tiffany & Company in 1911, and made by silversmiths from that company.

The two vases were fashioned out of a one-ton block of precious metal mined from the Ptarmigan mines in B.C.'s Selkirk Mountains.

It depicts a rock ptarmigan — a species of grouse from the region — perching on a ring crafted with silver and copper designs inspired by First Nations sculpture and basketry.

At the time it was purchased by the National Gallery, former Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore called it a "unique historical and cultural artifact of outstanding significance to all Canadians."

The gold seal adorning the front of the vase bears the British Columbia coat of arms adopted in 1895. The Latin cross immediately beneath is a surveying symbol that indicates the latitude and longitude where the Ptarmigan Mine and Mount Farnham are situated. The sides are engraved with figures, including an eagle, a large stylized mask and a small crescent moon.

"The National Gallery of Canada acquired this extraordinary vessel at a New York auction in January 2011 for US$662,500, as they wanted a strong representation of an older work from British Columbia," said the Audain's chief curator Darrin Martens in a release.

"In addition to its links with B.C., this masterpiece is important because of its use of B.C. First Nations iconography, constructed by the best crafts people Tiffany employed in the early 1900s, under the direction of Tiffany's star designer Paulding Farnham."

The vase was unveiled in front of members of the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization, who came to Whistler for the organization's annual spring conference, hosted by the Audain.

Cultural Connector brochure outlines Whistler arts

A new brochure highlighting the main points of artistic and cultural interest in Whistler has been published.

The brochure provides a full-colour map of the connector route, which starts at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre and winds through the Upper Village and into the Village past five other key locations: Lost Lake PassivHaus, Audain Art Museum, Maury Young Arts Centre, Whistler Public Library and Whistler Museum.

The circular route will also take in the farmers' market and pass several parks.

"My expectation is that it will be met with considerable interest. There was a lot of cooperation and work by the various Whistler organizations along the Cultural Connector route," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.

"There has been a lot of work done on the ground, but the brochure is the first takeaway piece."

Wilhelm-Morden said a short new section of the Valley Trail has been recently completed and connects the Whistler Skate Park with the Audain Art Museum.

As well, the information kiosk for the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre has been relocated to a more prominent location.

Wayfinding and branding elements are currently being worked on around the route and will be ongoing into 2017.

Wilhelm-Morden says this year will also see further engagement with property owners and other stakeholders about improvements to the Chateau Boulevard and the Upper Village Stroll.

"This will include a significant piece of public art," she added. "It is part of the planning, though I can't say any more about it at this time."

Whistler's Cultural Connector was published with financial assistance from the B.C. and federal governments.

The brochure can be found at municipal office, the Maury Young Arts Centre, at Village Host booths and in resort hotels.


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