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Catherine Widgery’s “Time’s Shadow” triptych unveiled at Rideau Centre in Ottawa


October 7, 2016
by Canadian Architect

Time's Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

Time’s Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

Time’s Shadow, a stunning glass triptych by artist Catherine Widgery that beautifully represents the changing of the seasons, is the cultural highlight of the CF Rideau Centre’s $360 million, three-year revitalization, inaugurated in August.

Time’s Shadow consists of three seasonally inspired art panels displayed along the exterior façade of the huge shopping centre. There are 11,000 square feet of art and consists of fritted and ceramic printed panes of glass held up by stainless steel “spider” fittings. The cycle of the seasons in the landscape are woven together with images of the sky from dawn to sunset, as a metaphor for the cycle of our lives.

Time's Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

Time’s Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

The skies behind “Winter” are those of dusk on a winter’s eve. The skies behind the “Summer/Fall” panel are brilliant sunset hues. The skies behind the “Spring/Summer” panel are dawn pale with wispy clouds catching the early light. The landscapes are hybrid images, composited by the artist, of many moments throughout the season. Bare limbs give way to flowering trees and pale leaves become the lush greens of summer. Then we witness the turning of the foliage as fall arrives, shifting from yellows to reds and finally the cool blues and grays of winter. All the images have been woven together and then crystalized so that small shapes of crisp colour vibrate.

Laid over this hybrid image of landscape through time is a veil of fritted glass with images of leaves and branches as if we are looking through them. There are also reflections of the sky and nearby buildings and these reveal or obscure the images of the forest or the sky to create a very complex and richly layered visual experience. Through these reflections on the glass panels, this intricate and unique artwork blends the urban setting of the shopping centre with the natural environment and the brain is stimulated in ways that trigger a rich and complex series of associations.

Time's Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

Time’s Shadow, Rideau Centre, Ottawa. Photo courtesy of Christine Anderson

Behind the front glass, inside the box are two images: one of sky and one of landscape, which are printed in alternating 75mm wide stripes and then fired to a ceramic glaze. The glass in front of the image is also a ceramic frit, printed and fired in alternating stripes of 75mm. From an oblique angle the images stand out quite clearly, but from the front it is more mysterious and façade appears like a veil, softening and shifting the perception of the image behind. At night the frit picks up the light, and the colours are luminous against the dark building.

“Art is a big component of Ottawa’s culture and visitors to Canada’s Capital and CF Rideau Centre will be treated to a stunning and vibrant installation that truly captures the beauty of Canadian seasonality,” says Sebastian Greenall, Senior Vice President of Architecture and Design, of Cadillac Fairview, who led the renovation.