Just Add Water

My environmental work focuses on various industrial materials and processes that are used in the management of nature. With ‘Just Add Water’, I chose to work in partnership with Ocean Cement as a long time Granville Island based industry, and makers of the ubiquitous material that has birthed our city, both above and below ground – concrete. Their location has been crucial to the development of the city core directly across False Creek, and to other surrounding neighbourhoods.

I decided to work with sanitary pipes – they are sculptural and their sense of scale has a strong physical presence. The bright orange lining serves as a barrier to prevent sewage gases from eroding the concrete, thus extending its longevity. Similar forms appeared in land art of the 1960’s, such as Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, adding another reference to our collective’s environmental project on Granville Island. The site spoke to Granville Island's industrial past – a nearby crane from the 1920’s that has since been restored. It was once used to offload supplies and equipment off passing barges.


The concept of incorporating ‘concrete poetry’ inside the forms gives language a material dimension by using the text/typography itself to create a visual image. I was interested in the ways that concrete was described in technical stats and literature, and wanted to imbue the words themselves with the same visual force as the pipes. In a parallel process to revealing our buried underground infrastructure, I am revealing language as more than the unseen vehicles for ideas.

These enormous precast sculptural forms invite visitors to explore the passageways that create our underground infrastructure. There, they collect, transport and dispose of all the liquids that are produced by human occupancy. The manufacturing process of each pipe involves six people – their names adorn the rim. Human hands continue to build the city every day.

The inaugural project for Art is Land Network, a Vancouver artist collective.