Is that a picnic table behind me? It is but…….. it is also a work of art called Table of Contents.
Located in Winnipeg’s Vimy Ridge Park just off of Portage Avenue the long steel table pays tribute to the people of the surrounding Wolseley neighbourhood who are the primary users of the park.
There are words or quotes etched onto the table’s surface. They were submitted by folks who live nearby and are frequent users of the park. They were asked to comment on the importance of the park, its natural setting, or the history of the area.
There are many different languages used for the words on the table. This is indicative of the surrounding multi-cultural neighbourhood where Tagalog, Portuguese, French and English are spoken. Even Braille is represented. The words are etched on the table in a way that gives you something to read no matter which side of the table you are sitting on.
Designed by Eduardo Aquino, a University of Manitoba architecture professor who originally hails from Brazil and Karen Shanski who is a practising Winnipeg architect, the table/sculpture is located at a spot where many of the walking paths in Vimy Ridge Park converge. Aquino and Shanski refer to the words on the table they created as a ‘landscape of language.’ It was important to them that the people who used the table would recognize themselves in the words on its surface. They hoped the table would be a place for people to gather to talk with each other and listen to each other.
I am in the park frequently these days on regular stroller rides with my granddaughter whose home is nearby and I have seen people eating, visiting, sleeping, reading, smoking, taking a break from cycling and playing chess at the table. From what I’ve observed the table is fulfilling the purpose it was designed for.