About 50 people joined the Okanagan School of the Arts and the City of Penticton Saturday to celebrate the reinstallation of sculptor Chong Fahcheong’s The Romp.
The bronze statues of three children playing in the waters of Okanagan Lake made a triumphant return to Marina Way Park last week, over a year and a half since they were removed for repair after vandalism.
Jane Shaak, a supervisor at the OSA’s Shatford Centre, said having The Romp back means a lot to the community.
“It is a very endearing sculpture that people love and it is lovely to have it back in the community, ”said Shaak.
Saturday’s celebration was proceeded by an artist talk Friday at the Shatford Centre, where Fahcheong shared photographs of his work in many mediums. He also shared photographs of The Romp as it was being sculpted and spoke about his creative process.
“It was a great event,” said Shaak. “People loved it and it was really nice to have the artists there along with his wife Anne Pang.”
It was also discovered on Saturday, said Shaak, the name of the third local child Fahcheong used for his inspiration: Ryan Vass, along with Jasper and Caitlin Meiklejohn
The Romp was created as part of the Okanagan Thompson International Sculpture Symposium, producing 22 public art pieces including The Salmon at Nanaimo Square by Jon Barlow Hudson; the earthworks sculpture at Lakawana Park on Power Street by Lorna Green; and The Emerging stones by Yoshiko Yagi at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on the corner of Power and Westminster Avenue.
On his website, Fahcheong writes that in his sculptures he strives “to be” without being affected by conditions, learned responses, habits or addictions.
“My involvement in creative work pursuits, in particular, sculpture, is a state of mind. It is a consciousness, an acute awareness of my existence, made up of limitless variables and possibilities,” Fahcheong says. “It is a life process where givens are challenged, nature re-evaluated and life re-created.
“As a sculptor, I see myself as the most independent individual in my environment, able to comment about any phenomena through what I depict, through allegory, metaphor, material, form and shape.”
Originally, The Romp was located on the westside of Marina Way Park behind the Japanese Gardens but was removed from the park in August 2009 after it was damaged in an apparent act of vandalism.
The sculpture has since been repaired, reinforced and now relocated to a more visible location of the park at the northeastern shoreline as Fahcheong created the work with the intention of it being in the water.
“It will be right in the vicinity of where Ironman begins,” said Coun. Judy Sentes who sits of the city arts committee that worked to get the sculpture repaired and reinstalled. “It will be a much more visible site. People along Lakeshore walking and driving will be able to see it. There is actually a streetlight right there as well. So we believe it’ll be much more protected in that location.
“I think it is a delightful sculpture. I think that it is one that everyone can enjoy. There is not any real interpretive message there. It is very indicative of children playing, so I think the community will be very delighted to have it back, especially in the more visible location.”