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Public art controversy balloons up around downtown


If you’ve gone by the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena lately and wondered what those huge objects that look like large sinkers sitting on the lawn are, wonder no more.

They are works of art representing balloons and the public art work is entitled Celebrations.

“Balloons are evocative of celebrations. They evoke memories of events such as community gatherings, family milestones, parades, special events, and happy occasions,” said Community Coordinator Doug Hofstede, on the city’s Facebook page. “The three granite balloons appear as though they are floating around the area, having just been dropped from above with their strings whimsically trailing behind.”

Etched into each balloon are images of Prince George’s past celebrations and community gatherings. Each granite balloon was shaped to a final weight of over 2200 kilograms (nearly 5,000 pounds). The “Cambrian Black” granite was quarried in Quebec, while the “Brazil Red” stone hails from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Much closer to home, the “Aqua Mist” white balloon started its journey on the Sunshine Coast’s Hardy Island.

The balloons were installed last week by project artists Mary Ann Lui and Paul Slipper. The team has created public artwork for communities across B.C. and Canada. Each balloon rests on a concrete foundation six feet below ground.

However, judging by the slew of comments on the city’s Facebook page, residents aren’t too keen on the public art.

“Unfortunately looks like a big garbage bag to me,” posted Michelle Gray. “Why not bright balloon colours? I get that you want to show off your concrete but I wouldn’t have known what they are without the description! I would definitely like to see more art installations around town though.”

“I’m a big supporter of art, but these are almost as uninspiring as the ‘crates full of rocks’ display at the RCMP building,” posted Shawn Haines.

To view an online brochure about the city’s nearly two dozen other works of public art, which include carvings, sculptures, and other pieces, please visit the City’s website:

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