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Inspiring Vision In Downtown Halifax

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Those of you who follow me on Facebook ou Twitter will have seen my posts early on Monday morning, about the amazing architectural decorative work that went up on top of Fireworks Gallery in downtown Halifax that morning.

I wanted to share a bit more about this amazing project, and particularly, some more photos.

It's 6am, and the truck has arrived. The diamond is all wrapped up to protect the gold leaf
It’s 6am, and the truck has arrived. The diamond is all wrapped up to protect the gold leaf

I actually couldn’t help myself and burst into tears at some point, purely from the fact that someone actually believes in decorative work, in the beautification of a building through locally hand-crafted art of such a scale.

The first piece is going up
The first piece is going up
.. and up and up
.. and up and up

Judy Anderson, owner of Fireworks Gallery in Halifax, has been in that building on Barrington since 1980. That’s 33 years in this location, through thick and thin. She is an avid advocate for the downtown.

Fireworks owner Judy Anderson watches with some of her neighbours
Fireworks owner Judy Anderson responds to some of her neighbours

Judy says that she first had the idea for a ‘crown’ on the building ten years ago. Partially inspired by a photograph of her building from the late 18hundreds, that shows an iron teapot on top of the building, and partially inspired by the architecture in New Orleans and San Fransisco, she started scale drawings for the project four years ago. Seeing it come to fruition must have been exciting!

The biggest element, the giant steel diamond, is being lifted into place
The biggest element, the giant steel diamond, is being lifted into place
Nader guides the corner pieces into place
Blacksmith Nader guides the corner pieces into place
Judy designed and executed this crown for the Sakyong Wangmo (photo by Marvin Moore. All rights reserved. Used with permission)
Judy designed and executed this crown for the Sakyong Wangmo (photo by Marvin Moore. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the artist )

Central to the piece is the giant 3D gold-leaved diamond, and the trademark Fireworks Dragon. On a buying trip to Las Vegas, Judy saw lotuses on a fountain, and decided to use those as the imagery, instead of just scrolls.

Judy is also the personal jeweller to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She made many items for that family, including the crown for the empowerment of his wife, the Sakyong Wangmo, and the couple’s wedding rings.

Judy’s work with the Shambhala Royal family is partially where some of the imagery for the ironwork came from: lotuses and protective vajras.

The Fireworks Dragon adorns the very top of the sculpture
The Fireworks Dragon atop the golden diamond adorns the very top of the sculpture
Contractor Patrick 'sets' the glass diamond below the gold-leaved steel one
Contractor Patrick ‘sets’ the glass diamond below the gold-leaved steel one

Judy believes in the downtown area, and in the beautification of Barrington Street. She wants to be an inspiration for the surrounding businesses. One could say, she literally sets the standard higher (above the street!), a real gold standard.

Setting a gold standard, high above Barrington Street
Setting a gold standard, high above Barrington Street

The decorative ironwork was partially made possible by a Heritage District Grant from City of Halifax as part of HRM by design, which was meant to cover 50% of the cost of the project. However, during the realization of Judy’s concept several problems were encountered, which unfortunately blew the budget out of the water.

Look at the beautiful details on each leaf of this vajra above Barrington
Look at the beautiful details on each leaf of this vajra above Barrington, morning busses below

Nader Parsarad of Pars Ironworks spent 1,000 expert blacksmithing hours executing Judy’s design in six separate pieces, which were then powdercoated. Following this, Judy spent two weeks gold leafing select parts by hand in her home.  Contractor Patrick Jardine of Tekton meanwhile spent two months reinforcing the top edge of the masonry brickwork and the roof, building the cornice piece, and the structural supports for the ironwork. What a huge project!

The whole piece has massive support structures
The whole piece has massive support structures

I really love this project, and salute Judy for her courage and vision. I find her enthusiasm truly inspiring.

The newly crowned Fireworks Gallery on Barrington Street in Halifax
The newly crowned Fireworks Gallery on Barrington Street in Halifax

Check out this piece of vision during OPEN CITY, and event put on tomorrow, Saturday May 11th by  ILoveLocal Halifax.

 

 

 

 

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13 Comments

  1. What a fabulous thing to add to the skyline. Thanks for the photos and the story. I’ll be on the lookout for it next time I’m in Halifax.

    • Glad you liked the story, Alexa. It really is quite the sight to behold. When you go see it, make sure you look at it from all the different angles.

  2. Dorothee thank you for reporting this project and…
    Kudos to Judy’s passion about beautification of down town Halifax. When she shared the idea, I was sold immediately!
    When the project finally reached its “show & tell” moment and sat on top of Fireworks Gallery, once again I was overwhelmed with pride and joy. It feels good to give back to the city. I thank Judy for the opportunity to Forge this piece!

  3. Congratulations Dorothee. What a vision you have and to carry it out to a fabulous finished piece. Congratulations to Nader, your blacksmith skill is amazing.

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