Public Art in Ottawa – Outdoor Gallery

On my recent solo trip to the Motherland my favorite public art in Ottawa was the sculpture Maman by Louise Bourgeois. The giant spider stands in front of the National Gallery of Canada at 380 Sussex Drive. I first visited Maman on my way back from a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint and returned a second time when I viewed the contemporary art at the National Gallery.

Giant spider sculpture in Ottawa Ontario Canada - Public Art in Ottawa - Maman by Louise Bourgeois

Maman by Louise Bourgeois located in front of the National Gallery of Canada

Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 and died in New York in 2010 at the age of 98. She studied at the Sorbonne, initially studying mathematics for a couple of years but began studying art in 1932.

Public Art in Ottawa - Detail of the spider's eggs - Maman sculpture by Louise Bourgeois

Detail of the spider’s eggs – Maman sculpture by Louise Bourgeois

The sculpture Maman is made of bronze, stainless steel, and marble. The information posted at the National Gallery of Canada states:

The giant egg-carrying spider, is a nurturing and protective symbol of fertility and motherhood, shelter and the home. With its monumental and terrifying scale, however, Maman also betrays this maternal trust to incite a mixture of fear and curiosity.

Public Art in Ottawa - Painted stairs in downtown Ottawa near the Rideau Canal

Painted stairs in downtown Ottawa near the Rideau Canal

I spent one afternoon walking along the Rideau Canal and smiled when I spotted the brightly painted stairs around downtown Ottawa. I was waiting for the guy to leave so I could get a good photo without any people but decided the photo with the guy standing on the stairs/deck was more interesting.

Public Art in Ottawa - Rideau Canal - kids jumping into the water with flying fish - painted stairs

Ottawa Rideau Canal – kids jumping into the water and flying fish – painted stairs

My first day in Ottawa I walked from the Wellington West neighborhood, where I rented a room via AirBnB, to the Ottawa River just a few blocks away. I was walking along the shoreline of the river when I noticed what looked like a few inukshuks and took some photos. I didn’t realize there was an entire exhibit of rock art along the Ottawa River until I had ventured further west.

Public Art in  Ottawa - Ottawa River rock art at Remic Rapids - an annual art exhibit outdoors on the western pathway

Rock art exhibit along the Ottawa River

The annual rock art exhibit along the Ottawa River is curated by John Felicè Ceprano. There were a couple of evening events at the exhibit location. One was a concert which I missed but I did attend the Fairy Dance performance by Natasha Royka Movement. It was great fun! A bunch of kids dancing with the fairy dance performers – it was a bit of magic for the evening.

Public Art in Ottawa - Fairy Dance performance by Natasha Royka Movement - Ottawa River

Fairy Dance performance by Natasha Royka Movement – Ottawa River

I found more dancing art – Dancing Bear byPauta Saila is located in a courtyard of the ByWard Market between York and Clarence Streets. It was a nice surprise!

Ottawa Public Art - Dancing Bear by Pauta Saila - ByWard Market

Dancing Bear sculpture by Pauta Saila – located at the ByWard Market

When I listed the highlights of my 5 days in Ottawa I mentioned that asparagus was also a part of the public scene in Ottawa I was not joking.

Public Art in Ottawa - asparagus hydrant along Wellington West

Ottawa public art – asparagus hydrant in Wellington West

Artichoke is also represented.

Public Art in Ottawa - asparagus fire hydrant on Wellington West

Artichoke fire hydrant public art – Wellington West in Ottawa

“Wooden, spiral, wind-vane thing” is the description given by the artists Alex Wyse and Ken Guild: for the sculpture entitled Twist 1.5 which is located in Major’s Hill Park near the Parliament Buildings.

Public Art in Ottawa - Twist 1.5 by Alex Wyse and Ken Guild - Major's Hill Park

Twist 1.5 by Alex Wyse and Ken Guild – Major’s Hill Park

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour of some of the public art of Ottawa. I enjoyed my visit to Canada’s capital and look forward to visiting again.

What is your favorite city to view public art? What is your favorite public art?

About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter

2 Comments

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  1. Nancie says:

    This is all great art. The Leesum Museum in Seoul (run by the Samsung group) has a giant spider sculpture as well. Not sure if it’s the same artist. The next time I’m close by I will have to check.

    • Susan Moore says:

      Maman the giant spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois was one of my favorites in Ottawa. I know there are several other Maman spider sculptures around the world, so the giant spider in Seoul is likely by Bourgeois as well.

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